Zootopia – Cinema For Grown Up Children and Peter Pans
John Lasseter has finally managed to harmlessly combine Disney and Pixar into something completely unique and original; a movie for children and adults; for those “smarter” who might wish to contemplate after the show, as well as those who are only seeking cinema fun. He created something for people uneducated in film as well as for movie buffs and professionals who will have a smug face during the show because they will recognize references to, and things stolen from Metropolis, Blade Runner and film noir. Zootopia has all the flaws and all the virtues of both Disney and Pixar. It’s as hospitable and fairytale like as Disney movies, and as cunning and digitally “on steroids” as the best Pixar movies. It sucks up to both children and parents as a Disney, but it also, like a proper Pixar, flatters rebels and renegades, as well as anyone who understands that political correctness is a poison that’s destroying contemporary American cinema (but they accept it as a lesser evil than its’ counterpart). It’s the first movie that’s a 100% Disney and a 100% Pixar at the same time.
When Great Minds Unite
The film is both tamed and completely wild at the same time, same as the animals in Zootopia. Lasseter had to manage to combine and unite his two (completely different) film “homelands” into one, like Lincoln united north and south. The comparison is suitable because they’ve had similar paths but in different careers. Lasseter went from a pioneer of digital animation, screenwriter, director, author of the legendary Toy Story which was really the film that got Pixar going, to being a creative guru and in charge of production in both Disney studios and Pixar. His life should be a movie. He’d started as an animator in Disney, where he started implementing 3d. At the time digital animation was a “tabu”, and forbidden at Disney, so Lasseter got fired. He went on to work for George Lucas who dreamt of Star Wars sequels with mighty, unseen digital effects that would astonish the world. The liberal and vibrant Lucasfilm gave birth to Pixar, bought, together with Lasseter by Steve Jobs. And so, with the Apple’s visionary’s blessing Toy Story, the first digitally animated movie was created. It was distributed by Disney (because money is more important than conflicts with Lasseter or anyone for that matter). The profits were so huge that Disney bought entire Pixar from Apple (together with the outcast Lasseter). And so he was back, as Caesar entering a lost and beheaded Rome in a parade after a conquering campaign. Disney’s films weren’t making money and Pixar’s were; it was a simple calculation. And by the way, Steve Jobs did not become a billionaire thanks to Apple. It all happened because of Pixar.
Capitalism in Film
If the people who’d been running Disney were smarter and more tolerant, Lasseter and Pixar could’ve been theirs from the start, without Lucas and Jobs having anything to do with it. Since then Disney has grown, and its’ leaders have become better at what they are supposed to do – find good studios to incorporate into their empire. One example is purchase of Marvel and Lucasfilm, which, together with Pixar, form the magic triumvirate in Disney’s cinema empire. Lasseter is what really makes the new Disney film Zootopia interesting. It has a Pixar “feel”, it deals with the subject of intolerance. The title signifies a sort of animal utopia, a world in which peaceful and wild, carnivorous animals can live together in harmony. The plot thickens once the wild animals start attacking and killing the rest which is the problem the heroes of the film have to deal with. As in classical film noir, it’s a metropolis ruled by political corruption and crime, and behind a plot to “ethnically cleanse” the minorities is a small cute sheep. The message is clear; don’t let hate, division and discrimination rule your community, which is what the world is faced with today. Some critics have argued that Zootopia is didactical and that it’s too concerned with the issue of tolerance. I don’t see why that would diminish the fun level, the inventiveness and the playfulness of this amazing movie, which is bursting with intelligent remarks and references, great humor, charm and emotions.