Life in Writing
I’ll just let you know from the start that I quite enjoyed this movie. Of course, I’m always a bit of a sucker for the Disney animated films, but this one didn’t just excel in charm, it also had an exceptional story line and a lot of funny moments like this one:
A lot has been said in reviews about the message of this movie, some love the message some hate it, but my review isn’t about the message of the movie, it’s about the writing. In this post I’ll discuss its worst problem, as well as its greatest success in the art of storytelling.
Biggest Problem: Telling exposition instead of showing
This is an odd problem for a movie to have, after all, showing is what movies do best, but Zootopia starts off with a monologue explaining the situation of the world. This could have been done gracefully throughout the film, but instead they opted to just say that this is a world where animals have evolved to walk on hind legs and live in harmony between predator and prey. Now for those of you saying, “That’s a pretty minor problem.” You’re absolutely right. This was a great movie, with few problems, and honestly for its target audience of children, telling can be better in some instances, but as a general rule, explaining a world through sights, sounds, and actions is much better than just saying what the world is like outright.
Biggest Success: Characterization through flaws and biases
This story is meant for children, and by using animals as the characters, it very much comes across that way, but if this movies was done featuring humans instead of animals it would be a very adult film. The story doesn’t just identify prejudice in the world, its characters are defined by it. Officer Hops is the first ever bunny to be a police officer, and this drives her character throughout the film. Each character in the story has a prejudice against other characters and it’s not just a trite little happenstance to give the movie a message, it drives the character motivation in a realistic and believable way. No matter how you feel about the obvious message of this movie, the characterization is undeniably excellent.
Overall, this was a fun movie with an interesting story for any age group, and I recommend seeing it.
Daniel M. Quilter is the author of A Soul Divided. On this blog he'll interview other authors, review books, share nerd wisdom from popular sci-fi and fantasy, and occasionally share his insights on writing. See a list of his works or see what he's working on.
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