I’m going to split this into two reviews again since some spoiler stuff may get me ranting in another direction.
This movie is Zootopia as told by J.R.R. Tolkien after he binged the entire Lethal Weapon series. If you were/are interested in any of that, you’ll probably like this film.
No really, that’s pretty much it. Will Smith is an LA beat cop who has an Orc for a partner. The movie follows them through one very eventful night of their lives. Of course being a cop movie in Los Angles there is a large amount of swearing and at one point they have to have a scene in the contractual strip club. (which means TITTIES!)
I’m a sucker for urban fantasy (even though i can be picky about it) so I enjoyed the time spent watching the film. They put a lot of work into the little details which I love in these things. It gives the viewer a real sense that they are seeing but a tiny fragment of a much, much larger world. We don’t know everything about the world this happens in, but we know enough to get the plot and characters. The characters have good arcs and really struggle towards their ending. The plot is competently executed and tight with nothing wasted or slowing it down.
What I really appreciate in these films are the little touches put in to make the world seem real. Like when I used to watch the show Smallville, I would often get the biggest kick out of seeing a newspaper dispenser standing on the corner with “Daily Planet” on it than anything else. If you’re like that, then this movie is a veritable feast. The graffiti on the walls is the most obvious touch shown, but it goes beyond that. I mean they actually get the Orc’s ears to twitch in this film, when was the last time you saw that attention to detail in an unhuman character? All these little touches really contribute to the world feeling real and gives the viewer a sense of that world actually being larger then what we see on screen. When was the last time you saw a movie which made you want to see more from the setting, but satisfied with the story you were given?
What really makes this tough on me is how to grade it. Objectively across all of film history, it’s a little above mediocre – a very solid, workhorse film. Yet here lately it seems like storytelling and worldbuilding in stories have become so shoddy that this film actually stands out. Can you remember the last time you watched a film which didn’t bother to preach a message at you, but let you draw one on your own?
So I encourage people to watch it if interested just to send the signal to storytellers that audiences still value competent storytelling, and that all the special effects and fanservice in the world aren’t a substitute for it.