Analyzing ‘Zootopia Essay paper

Assignment Question

Write a critical review on the animated feature film Zootopia. How was this film influenced by the animation that came before it? Be sure to also cover character development, visuals, soundtrack, story, and historical context (what was going on at the time of the film’s release that might make this type of story appealing to a specific or wide audience).



The animated feature film “Zootopia,” released in 2016, has undeniably left an indelible mark on the world of animation. With a harmonious blend of innovative storytelling and stunning visual aesthetics, it has not only captured the hearts of countless viewers but also earned critical acclaim and fostered a dedicated and diverse fanbase. This paper embarks on a comprehensive and critical exploration of “Zootopia,” dissecting its multifaceted facets that make it a remarkable cinematic creation. The review will take an insightful journey through the film’s influences derived from prior animations, delve into the intricate nuances of character development, dissect the mesmerizing visuals and animation techniques, resonate with the evocative soundtrack, dissect the compelling storyline, and contextualize the film within the socio-cultural landscape of its release years, from 2017 to 2022. In doing so, we will unravel the film’s enduring appeal and its significance as a cultural and cinematic milestone.

Influences from Previous Animations

“Zootopia” stands as a remarkable testament to the evolutionary journey of animated films over the decades. It bears clear influences from the legacy of animated classics produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, including “Robin Hood” (Thomas & Kahl, 1973) and “The Lion King” (Allers & Minkoff, 1994), These earlier works laid the foundation for the anthropomorphic animal world of “Zootopia,” showcasing the continual evolution of storytelling and animation techniques within the Disney tradition. The film, however, doesn’t merely emulate its predecessors but pioneers a fresh approach by offering a contemporary commentary on prejudice and discrimination within a diverse and ever-changing society.

Character Development

One of the most striking and memorable aspects of “Zootopia” is its remarkable character development. In particular, the film’s two central characters, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, undergo profound transformations throughout the narrative. Judy, a small but determined rabbit with lofty aspirations, embarks on a journey that defies stereotypes and societal expectations. Her character arc embodies unwavering determination and resilience as she navigates the hurdles in her quest to prove herself in the police force. In contrast, Nick, a street-smart and initially cynical fox, experiences a profound metamorphosis, transforming from a hustler into a dependable and loyal friend. The film’s exploration of these characters’ growth serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of challenging stereotypes, embracing diversity, and the enduring power of personal transformation.

Visuals and Animation Techniques

The visual elements and animation techniques in “Zootopia” are breathtaking. The film capitalizes on cutting-edge technology to create a vibrant and dynamic city inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. The attention to detail in character design, textures, and environments immerses the audience in this fantastical world (Smith & Moore, 2016). The film’s realistic and lush animation captures the essence of the different animal species, making the fictional city of Zootopia come to life. The use of color and lighting in the film is particularly impressive (Giacchino, 2016). The city’s districts are portrayed with distinct palettes, from the lush greens of Bunnyburrow to the noir-inspired Rainforest District. These visual choices help convey the diversity of the animal inhabitants and add depth to the story.

Soundtrack and Music

The soundtrack in “Zootopia” deserves special recognition for its significant impact on the film’s emotional resonance. Crafted by renowned composer Michael Giacchino, the music weaves seamlessly into the narrative, enhancing the overall tone and storytelling (Giacchino, 2016). One standout aspect of the soundtrack is the recurring theme song, “Try Everything” performed by Shakira. This anthemic composition mirrors the relentless determination displayed by Judy Hopps, the film’s protagonist, as she navigates a world rife with prejudice and discrimination. The uplifting and infectious nature of “Try Everything” not only serves as a musical thread throughout the movie but also underlines the core message of the film – hope, resilience, and the power of determination. This creates an indelible connection between the soundtrack and the viewer, making it an integral and memorable part of the “Zootopia” experience.

Storyline and Themes

The storyline of “Zootopia” is multi-layered, offering entertainment for both children and adults. The film explores themes of prejudice, bias, and the consequences of stereotyping. It provides a nuanced take on these issues, presenting a narrative that is both thought-provoking and entertaining (Smith & Moore, 2016). Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde’s partnership to solve a mysterious case involving missing mammals serves as an allegory for real-world social issues. The film’s message about inclusivity and the dangers of prejudice is relevant to the social and political context of the years 2017 to 2022. During this period, discussions about diversity and discrimination were at the forefront of public discourse, making “Zootopia” a timely and resonant piece of entertainment.

Historical Context

“Zootopia” was released during a period of significant social and political change. In 2016, the film addressed issues of prejudice and discrimination, which were becoming increasingly important topics in mainstream media. The film’s exploration of these themes, along with its depiction of a diverse and multicultural society, appealed to a wide audience. In the years following its release, movements such as Black Lives Matter and increased advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights further highlighted the relevance of “Zootopia.”


In conclusion, “Zootopia” stands out as a remarkable animated feature film, influenced by its predecessors and shaping the future of animation. Its strong character development, stunning visuals, memorable soundtrack, thought-provoking storyline, and timely themes make it a significant piece of cinematic art. As a product of its time, the film addresses important societal issues, resonating with a broad audience. “Zootopia” remains a testament to the power of animation in conveying meaningful messages and entertaining viewers of all ages.


Allers, R., & Minkoff, R. (Directors). (1994). The Lion King [Film]. Walt Disney Feature Animation.

Giacchino, M. (2016). Zootopia (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).Walt Disney Records.

Smith, B., & Moore, R. (Directors). (2016). Zootopia [Film]. Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Thomas, F., & Kahl, M. (Directors). (1973). Robin Hood [Film]. Walt Disney Productions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is ‘Zootopia,’ and why is it significant in the world of animation?

“Zootopia” is an animated feature film released in 2016 by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It is significant for its storytelling, character development, and its exploration of important social themes.

2. How was ‘Zootopia’ influenced by previous animated films?

“Zootopia” draws inspiration from classic Disney animated films like “Robin Hood” and “The Lion King” in terms of its anthropomorphic animal world. It builds upon the legacy of these earlier animations.

3. What is noteworthy about the character development in ‘Zootopia’?

The film features dynamic character development, with Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde undergoing significant growth throughout the narrative. Their arcs challenge stereotypes and promote diversity.

4. What are some standout visual and animation techniques in ‘Zootopia’?

The film is known for its cutting-edge technology and attention to detail in character design and world-building. It uses color and lighting to create a visually immersive experience.

5. How does the soundtrack contribute to the storytelling in ‘Zootopia’?

The soundtrack, with songs like “Try Everything” by Shakira, reinforces the film’s message of determination and hope. It complements the story, making it more emotionally engaging.