Out march 25 / Cert. tbc / 108 mins.

Empire (UK) - - IN CINEMAS - John nu­gent

Di­rec­tors By­ron Howard, rich Moore cast Ja­son Bate­man, Gin­nifer Good­win, Idris elba, Alan tudyk, J. K. Sim­mons

Plot In the mam­mal city of Zootropo­lis, rab­bit rookie cop Judy Hopps (Good­win) is forced to team up with fox Nick Wilde (Bate­man) when civilised an­i­mals start turn­ing sav­age.

On the furry face of it, Zootropo­lis sees Walt Dis­ney an­i­ma­tion Stu­dios on safe ground. this is the Dis­ney of Robin Hood and Mickey Mouse — cute, an­thro­po­mor­phised an­i­mals, walk­ing on hind legs, talk­ing up cosy plat­i­tudes. a fa­mil­iar for­mula ready to delight pre-teens and be pack­aged for en­thu­si­as­tic toy mer­chan­dis­ers.

But Zootropo­lis has more in com­mon with Pixar than it first ap­pears. the fic­tional uni­verse it presents — a hu­man­free world where mam­mals have evolved into a bustling, civilised so­ci­ety — is vividly re­alised, richly de­tailed and very funny.

Our guide through this world is Judy hopps (voiced by Gin­nifer Good­win), a bunny cop in a buddy-cop movie, paired with a mis­matched part­ner — a fox. hopps is very much a Dis­ney hero­ine for a post-- Frozen world — peppy and in­de­pen­dently minded. De­spite the urges of her car­rot­farm­ing par­ents to give up her dreams, she be­comes Zootropo­lis’ first rab­bit po­lice of­fi­cer. her part­ner, nick Wilde, is a wily hus­tler played with sar­cas­tic rel­ish by Ja­son Bate­man. In the wild, they’re enemies; here they form an un­easy part­ner­ship as they’re both as­signed to a miss­ing-an­i­mals case.

In the grand tra­di­tion of the genre, the mis­matched pair grad­u­ally learn to get along. What they un­cover — a this­goes-all-the way-to-the-top con­spir­acy — raises ques­tions over what it means to evolve past your bi­ol­ogy; in a city where former bes­tial foes share an un­com­fort­able truce, it serves as a smart anal­ogy for the de­bates on im­mi­gra­tion that rage in our hu­man world. It’s not a do­main into which you of­ten see Dis­ney ven­ture.

Of course, po­lit­i­cal metaphors will by­pass the young­sters and yet the twisty machi­na­tions of the noir-lite story some­times get lost among the furry shenani­gans. this means, for adults, the joy is of­ten to be found in the back­ground: beavers as con­struc­tion work­ers; sloths work­ing the desks at the De­part­ment Of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles; Shakira as a gazelle. But it re­mains en­ter­tain­ing through­out — a tes­ta­ment to the in­ven­tive­ness of the on-screen ac­tion. and Pixar’s in­flu­ence.

Ver­dict The lat­est cre­ative re­nais­sance of the house that Walt built (but Pixar rein­vig­o­rated) shows no sign of slow­ing. An en­gag­ing an­i­ma­tion for all ages.

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