So, anyway, it’s June 2017, which is a great time to talk about the movies of 2016.
I’ve done this five times before, the ground rules should be clear, but a quick reminder for the uninformed: all movies are my choices, not Flayrah’s, choices are not necessarily furry, movies came out theatrically in 2016 and that’s about it. Usually I do a list of preliminaries, but I’ll save that for Twitter; I don’t remember how to code the boxes, and I’ve changed accounts so I can’t just copy and paste the code, anyway.
Now, without further ado, let the bodies hit the floor!
One year ago, Zootopia, a story about anthropomorphic animals in a modern setting dealing with the issue of prejudices in society, hit theaters. It was the most highly anticipated film for furries in the last decade, some having even rented out theaters for personal furry gatherings. In the days following Flayrah had a reviewing bonanza in which multiple prominent article writers gave their own reviews of the piece.
Heck, the Fur Affinity banner changed to a Zootopia theme when the movie came out and hasn’t changed since.
But on February 27th, the love for the film was continued to be shown well beyond the borders of furry fandom, as the academy elected it to receive the Oscar for Best Animated feature. It beat out nominees Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, and the one that most had thought could take it away from Disney, Kubo and the Two Strings.
So, anyway, earlier this year, a movie came out called Zootopia. We, uh, might have mentioned it. Despite being anticipated, or even known, by just about nobody who wasn't a furry or, perhaps, a major Disney fan, the movie managed to become a rare hit at both the box office and with professional critics (though gathering up Flayrah reviews, the consensus was more in line with Metacritic's "good, but whatever" score, because furries, am I right?).
One thing that was repeatedly and pointedly not mentioned by anyone involved with the movie was another movie a little over a decade old, called Chicken Little. Lots of interviews, and even a semi-independently produced 45-minute making of documentary, all went on at length at how this Disney's first fully anthropomorphic animal world since Robin Hood, and the first set in the furry equivalent of a modern world, despite the fact that it, well, wasn't. Chicken Little became the animated equivalent of a "disappeared non-person" in some sci-fi dystopia.
Which makes it incredibly interesting, in a weird kind of way; in a company that mines its past productions for nostalgia like there is no tomorrow (only yesterday, repeated), Disney has gone out of its way to avoid reminding anyone this movie exists. And this is actually a fairly important movie in the history of the company; it was the first full length computer animated feature by Disney (and not Pixar). So, is it really that bad?
Yes. Yes it is really that bad.
According to box office tracking site Box Office Mojo, Zootopia has just passed Deadpool to become the highest grossing movie of 2016. It's still early in the year, and Zootopia will most likely have relinquished the crown by 2017, but the beginning of the year has seen furries and superheroes battle it out for dominance at the box office.
As of press time, the current weekly box office champ, on its second weekend, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a superhero showdown of franchise-launching proportions; when the dust settles, it will probably come out ahead of Zootopia, though some film pundits have sensed weakness. The film, while doing massive box office by any standards, has still underperformed compared to predictions both weeks, and has had massive box office drops both from day to day and week to week. Zootopia, while never as massive an opener, has sustained smaller drop-offs and consistently overperformed compared to box office pundit predictions.
But the story of 2016's box office hasn't just been Batman v Superman v Zootopia; as noted, the previous biggest box office of the year was Deadpool, while a look back at the weekly charts reveals its been furries versus superheroes since nearly the beginning of the year.
Yes, we know, we all saw the box office figures. Zootopia is a big hit, and seems to be the establishing mass-media beachhead for "furry fandom". But please, please spare a moment to think about how best to interact with people arriving into the world of anthropomorphic-fiction. Consider this conversation you may well have in the near future ...
"Hey, is that Zootopia fan art? I loved that movie."
"No, it's actually my fursona."
"Oh, like a Zootopia OC, yeah I have one of those."
"No, No, this is from before Zootopia, from the furry fandom."
"Oh. No, I'm not into that stuff."
Stop right there ... Now, this is where you do not rant.
I'm a bit short on sleep at the moment, and my basic opinion on Zootopia is that it's a good, fun film, definitely worth seeing. My post is going to wander around a lot, more personal impressions than flat-out review. I'm not going to summarize the plot (assuming the other reviewers here have already done so), however I will be mentioning some elements of story structure that are semi-spoilerish.
I don't watch movies often. I'm not the kind to go out of my way to see films of any kind. Most of the ones I enjoyed I watched with my family on the television or on VHS or DVD. I can count the number times I went to the theater in the past decade on one hand.
And Zootopia is the first movie in cinema history where I can look at the opening weekend box office numbers and count my dollars amongst them. Yes, you heard that correctly. A 30 year old has never been to any movie on opening weekend until this last Friday, March 4th.
But I guess that's to be expected. Afterall, I was the audience it was marketed for. I'm a furry who writes for a furry news website that often covers movies, books, video games and also covers fandom politic. I usually cover the later two with more regularity. However, as with this opening weekend viewing, I find myself in need to make an exception.
In this article, I'm not going to not talk about the movie itself from an artistic and visual standpoint. I'll leave that to the movie experts on this site as there are people better at that aspect. Instead, in the interest of diversity I'm going to instead analyze the film from the perspective that I'm more known for and that is the social dynamic and messaging of the film.
In this interest I will cover two moments. The one that I feel is the movie’s greatest triumph, and the one that is its greatest downfall. As said these will contain supreme spoilers. If you want no spoilers, skip to the conclusion and don't read the comments.
Spoiler warning: Obviously many others are going to be covering the broad review of the movie here, as we at Flayrah are kind of doing a review extravaganza event. There are already some that are general and spoiler free. Therefore, in order to keep things fresh I will be doing one that contains a bit more spoilers than they do. So this is your warning. Only this introduction and the article's conclusion will be spoiler free. The main sections of the article and the comments will be free game and contain spoilers.
So, okay, there's a dozen or so iconic movies out there that furries like to claim as our own, whose characters are held up as examples of what an anthropomorphic animal is, and why we like them so much. But it's not often we get a movie with a premise that seems birthed from something on SoFurry. Zootopia is a film in which all mammals (excluding primates) have evolved. Kinda. They still look the same, including some species having eyes on either side of their head, or being friggin' tiny, but they can walk on two legs, and as children helpfully explain, don't eat each other anymore, and that's what's important.
Spoiler warning: This review does dwell a bit more into later plot developments than previous reviews.
This is the third review of Zootopia on Flayrah; please check out reviews by crossaffliction and Mister Twister! We invite all of our regular contributors (and maybe a few first timers) to share their opinions on this movie during the following month!
Every time a new animated movie comes out, my first question is “Will this story suck?” And that is an important question, since animation studios are often under pressure from producers to dumb down the narrative, to make absolutely sure the smallest kiddies (a.k.a., the target audience) will get it. When the makers cave in, it may end up being good for those “smallest kiddies”, but bad for everyone older than 7. That is a huge problem for grown-up animation fans, since no matter how good the visuals are, a stupid story will always make the watching experience painful, and leave you wishing you could travel to a parallel universe where the writing was better. I was disappointed by cartoons many times before, so I know what that feels like. Not here though. To my surprise, Disney released something actually smart, very very well-written. Zootopia is a smart movie, and is very much worth your time.
For anyone not convinced, I shall elaborate.
Disclaimer: In the reviewer's opinion, the French poster better represents the tone of the movie. Also, I only watched the movie once, but with the greatest attention. With that said, let's begin ...
This is the second review of Zootopia on Flayrah; the first can be found here, and we invite all of our regular contributors (and maybe a few first timers) to share their answers to those questions during the following month!
"It's only a movie, folks."
- People's "Picks and Pans Review: Star Wars: Episode I the Phantom Menace", Leah Rozen
Strange, but I guess I always wanted to write movie reviews; I remember thumbing through old People magazines at the barber shop, waiting for my hair to be cut, and skipping to the reviews, searching for movies I'd seen. I don't believe People even runs reviews anymore, but that's where I got my start. Not exactly the best known venue for movie criticism, even when it actually had any. But it's a start.
So, now, Zootopia. Interesting thing happened, waiting for this movie; furries began to caution other furries. Don't get to excited, don't overhype the movie, you'll only disappoint yourself. Which, as always, managed to show up the furry fandom's complete lack of cultural awareness; you don't worry about a relatively small group of people getting excited about a movie when the culture around you is waiting for the next Star Wars movie with something approximating religious fervor. It's not like we haven't already had three (now largely agreed upon as mediocre) Star Wars movies in most of the really excited people's lives already. Furry wise, we've only had one.
But, setting aside the willful ignorance of the world at large (you guys realize its an election year, right?), is this solid advice? Was the hype worth it? Will the anticipation pay off? Can this possibly live up to the expectations? Or is it, after all, just a movie?
This is the first review of Zootopia on Flayrah; another is already in the queue, and we invite all of our regular contributors (and maybe a few first timers) to share their answers to those questions during the following month!
Zootopia is the best reviewed movie of 2016 so far, according to review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. It has a 100% based on 92 reviews as this piece was written. The movie, which deals with a furry world as explicitly laid out in the original teaser trailer, is perhaps the single most anticipated movie in the history of the furry fandom. It seems the hype may not have been in vain.
Rotten Tomatoes's "critics' consensus" for the movie is as follows:
The brilliantly well-rounded Zootopia offers a thoughtful, inclusive message that's as rich and timely as its sumptuously state-of-the-art animation -- all while remaining fast and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained.
Some have noted that Zootopia is on pace to become the single best reviewed movie in Rotten Tomatoes history. The current record holder is Toy Story 2, with 100% from 163 reviews. The linked article points out that, while it is likely the movie will eventually receive a "rotten" review, a 99% or 98% is likely, and that a negative review is likely to come about because the reviewer disagrees with the movie's message, rather than the actual quality of the movie.
When I was a kid, I had a magic card whose flavour text read, "She had expected death to roar, to thunder, to growl. She did not recognize it when it came hissing to her side." If Phil Elmore had designed that card, it would've probably read, "She had expected death to roar, to thunder, to growl. She did not recognize it when it came in a cute and fluffy guise." That's because Phil Elmore thinks that furry is the latest crack in the foundation of society that will lead to, in his own words, the "destruction of society." He is wrong. He is so, so very wrong.
This one's for Fred.
The Art of Zootopia by Jessica Julius is now available for pre-order from Amazon; it will be available March 1 (three days before the March 4 opening of the movie) for $36.00 US (before any applicable taxes, shipping, handling and whatnot) in hardcover. Amazon points out that the The Art of Kung Fu Panda 3 is frequently bought with The Art of Zootopia; together, they are $65.60 at Amazon.