Disney is an absolute powerhouse of world-class entertainment, and they prove it time and time again. 2016 has sucked for movies (read my post about that), but Disney has done almost no wrong. They’ve given us Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Rogue One, Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon, and more that I haven’t seen. Adding on to that list are two stellar 3D-animated films from Walt Disney Animation Studios in Zootopia, and Moana, both of which channel that classic, fun and exciting Disney feel from the original movies that we grew up loving. This movie fight exists for two reasons, the first being that these are both exceptional movies from the same studio, and that is the only studio this year that has had two movies that can compete against each other with no right or wrong answer since they’re both amazing. Also, Disney Animation Studios has released hit after hit, beginning with Tangled in 2010, and then with Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6 over the last 6 years. If you’d like to, read my post about how this studio is now surpassing Pixar in quality of film, and where that trend is headed!
Zootopia and Moana to me are very similar films; let’s start with the plot of the former. We have our female lead, Judy Hopps, who leaves her home to go venture out into a world in which her parents are worried about her leaving since they don’t think they will be safe. In this new world, she is very much alone and has to do everything herself to succeed (no free passes). She comes across Nick Wilde, whom she forces to help her with her mission; he is reluctant at first because he is cocky and think he’s better than her, but eventually gives in and willingly assists her, becoming friends. Without giving anything away, in the end, there is a twist in the reveal of the actual identity of the antagonist, which leads to a very touching conclusion in the eyes of our protagonist. NOW, what I’d like you to do is read this paragraph again, and replace Judy Hopps’ name with “Moana,” and Nick Wilde’s name with “Maui,” and you’ll have an accurate telling of Moana, save for some specific details which are also left out of Zootopia. As you can see, there are similar themes although the movies feel very different, and the differences are what makes them shine the most.
Both films offer incredibly immersive and rich worlds that we are introduced at the same time that our protagonist explores for the first time. With some of the most impressive visuals you can find in any film with CGI, this film brings to life amazing characters the carry the film on their shoulders. The stories are good, but the characters are wonderful; Judy Hopps and Moana both offer beautiful leads that we can latch on to, and which act as an anchor for the rest of the film, which revolves around them for the most part. That being said, they, like us, feel very small in the big world of the movie, and they both are just great characters to love. Maui and Nick Wilde, on the other hand, are very familiar with the world they inhabit, and act more like “guides” for our hero so that they can function in the world. Both of these characters represent the less innocent aspects of the movie, and showcase the theme that even the “stronger” characters might not end up being as powerful as the ones with the bigger hearts.
They are so many hidden and underlined themes in each movie that can be found in various YouTube videos, and these themes are unique to each movie. In this post, I’ve simply and briefly outlined the things that connect these two films so that I can choose a favorite while excluding these aforementioned attributes. And, I’ll have to say that my favorite of the two is Moana! Some, many, or all may disagree, and I can even admit that Zootopia and Moana are so great to me that I have a hard time picking one, but I’m leaning towards this film simply because it felt more magical, and it still has me excited about it and singing the songs more than a week after watching it. Zootopia didn’t have that same effect, and the song that it left me with in the closing credits started to annoy me, which wasn’t a good taste to walk out with. Anyways, that’s just my opinion, and I’d love to hear yours! Comment your thoughts, and share if you liked this! You can read my full review of Moana right here, and as always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!