5:00 PM, 17th July, 2016
Disney has used this conceit only once before, in the 1973 animated feature Robin Hood. But you know the kind of thing from other cartoons, children’s books, direct from the pop culture aether if nowhere else: all the central roles are taken by various different species of animal, wear clothes and act just like humans (who themselves are absent). And you soon forget what species everyone is, so you don’t ask questions like: ‘Why doesn’t Robin Hood, a fox, eat the rabbit citizens of Sherwood?’
Zootopia is set in a fictional city with every species of mammal except Homo sapiens, but the twist this time is we’re invited not to forget. There’s a little cheating – the story, and civilisation, would be over in a few minutes if the foxes actually ate the rabbits – but with the minimal bending required to get cooperation off the ground, natural enemies still dislike each other, and all citizens of Zootopia remain vulpine, leporine, ursine and so forth in their personality traits, hilariously so in the case of the sloths (for whom, alas, there is no Latin-derived adjective).
Overlaid on this setting is a zippy race against time as a falsely accused fox teams up with a rabbit policewoman – policerabbit – policedoe – whatever – to prove his innocence, unmask a conspiracy and ensure that Zootopia is governed by more than just the law of the jungle.
7:00 PM, 17th July, 2016
The Jungle Book was the final Disney animated film to be personally supervised by founder Walt Disney, who died during its production. After its release in 1967, the film has since gone on to become one of Disney’s most famous creations – not on the scale of masterpieces like Cinderella or Snow White – but beloved nonetheless.
Recently Disney has been creating live-action remakes of its classic animated films to varying degrees of success. As with Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, this live-action remake of The Jungle Book relies as almost as heavily on computer generated spectacle as the original relied on hand drawn animation. Of the film’s characters, only the protagonist Mowgli (portrayed by newcomer Sethi) is a real person. All of the animal characters – from Bagheera the black panther (Ben Kingsley), Baloo the bear (Bill Murray), Kaa the seductive python (Scarlett Johansson), smooth-talking orangutan King Louie (Christopher Walken) and fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) – are life-like CGI creations.
Thankfully, for all its amazing visual splendour, Disney has not neglected to retain the heart of what made the original film so special. All of your favourite songs are included here too, along with some new ones, and Bill Murray singing “The Bare Necessities” with great oomph is a particular highlight.