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‘Zootopia’, ‘Gigantic’ and ‘Moana’: Walt Disney Animation Studio’s future looks bright

by Roy Choi | August 15, 2015August 15, 2015 7:00 am PDT

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For 92 years the Walt Disney Animation Studios has been churning out unforgettable movies that have embedded memories in fans hearts and minds. Chief Creator Office for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter took the stage the stage at Disney’s D23 Expo to give fans a first look at Disney’s slate of animated feature films. Lasseter described the talent and level of passion that has gone into the long list of projects calling the collective teams “unlike any studio in the world, and I’m proud to be a part of that legacy.”

That legacy looks to be in tact and in fact shine with the slate of films set to hit theaters for the next few years including Zootopia, Gigantic and Moana. Directors, producers and casts of these feature films made appearances at this year’s Disney fan convention D23 Expo to discuss and premier clips of these new films.

Warning: some spoilers lie ahead.

Zootopia

This film takes place in Zootopia, a world built for animals by animals, where the inhabitants walk on two legs, naturally. Disney set out to embrace the storyline of animals taking on humanistic traits. You know the kind where animals talk, walk on two legs and wear clothes. My childhood favorite of this type of movie was Disney’s interpretation of Robin Hood.

Zootopia is segmented into various regions/sections that cater to its inhabitants:

  • Sahara Square – the glitz and glamour you could find in locales like Monaco, Dubai, etc.
  • Tundra Town – the perfect place for animals that like the colder climates, like polar bears.
  • Rainforest District – inhabitants here find a rainier and warmer environment more inviting.
  • Bunny Burrows – Millions and millions of bunnies live here, and keep multiplying.

Of course though there is the “big city” and that’s where the main character, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) aims to be the ZPD’s first bunny cop. How progressive. ZPD’s force is mostly filled with bigger stronger animals, rhinos, hippos, you know big guys. But alas she’s stuck performing the job of a lowly meter maid, albeit a pretty phenomenal one.

Judy Hopps’ goal to rise up the ranks of the police department hits a hiccup as she meets a Nick Wilde, a shifty fox voiced by Jason Bateman. Who ends up being a conman (conanimal?) that she must befriend to solve a case of a missing person (animal?)

Audience in attendance were treated to a handful of clips from the film including one hilarious scene of a trip to the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles) in which all the employees are sloths (noun not adjective). How befitting.

This early look at Zootopia points to hilarious, entertaining and heartfelt film. I’m excited to see it in theaters.

Zootopia is Directed by Byron Howard (Tangled) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph), and produced by Clark Spencer (Wreck-It Ralph). Zootopia opens nationwide March 4, 2016.

Gigantic

Disney aims to tell THE definitive story of Jack and the Beanstalk in a way that Disney knows best, like Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, or any other Disney classic. Gigantic starts off like any Jack and the Beanstalk story: magic beans, bean stalk, giants. That’s pretty much it, right?

That’s where Gigantic takes a new approach, where instead of one sleepy giant, we’re witness to a whole land of giants. Some good, some bad and one particularly energetic, excited 11 year old 60-foot girl giant that treats our hero as a toy/rag doll.

Gigantic tells this classic story in Spain during the Age of Enlightenment when curiosity and discovery was the name of the game, perfect for a telling of Jack and the Beanstalk. No?

And to complete the classic animated Disney feature film formula the musical quotient will bring back the song-writing, dynamic duo behind Frozen, Kristen Anderson Lopez and Bobby Lopez. If you haven’t had enough of ‘Let it go’ already then there is another catchy tune that is promised to get stuck in your ears for weeks, if not an eternity.

Gigantic is Directed by Nathan Greno (Tangled) and produced by Dorothy McKim (Get A Horse!). Look for Gigantic to hit theaters sometime in 2018.

Moana

Moana takes place in the South Pacific and tells the story of our heroine of the same name. The creators of Moana went to great lengths to tell the story as authentically as possible. Polynesians for thousands of years used the stars to navigate and discover new islands across the South Pacific, however after some time they just stopped and and picked back up again a thousand years later. No one is quite certain why, but that is a jumping off point for the film.

Moana is an absolutely beautiful film with beautiful music. The casting is pretty great too. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays Maui the sidekick demigod with animated tattoos. Johnson stated to the audience it was his goal to be included into the Disney family in the form of an animated character. It also makes him immensely humbled to be a part of a project that pays tribute to his Samoan heritage.

This film plays beautifully to the landscape of the South Pacific and already looks to be a classic film that you’ll want to go back and watch again and again. Its creators, Ron Clements and John Musker, are the dynamic force behind other Disney classics such as The Little MermaidAladdinThe Princess & the Frog). Some pretty great pedigree, I hope it lives up to those high standards. Moana is set to be in theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.


Roy Choi

Roy Choi is a Southern California native. He has been infatuated with technology reviews ever since he bought his first crummy laptop in the summer...

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