- Composed by Michael Giacchino
- Walt Disney Records / 2016 / 63m
A rabbit police officer and a fox con artist are the focus of Disney’s Zootopia, the studio’s latest animated feature which has opened internationally to very strong reviews and box office performance. The film is the first full-length animation scored by Michael Giacchino which isn’t from Pixar. The prolific composer’s typically packed year in 2015 included Inside Out, for which he wrote a delightful score; Zootopia is an entirely different kettle of fish, a much more typical score for a modern animation, mixing orchestral mickey-mousing with light-hearted jazz and lovely, tender emotional moments. The first of those three features is by far the dominant one but the other two are much more impressive – the delightful caper-style “Ticket to Write” and “Walk and Stalk” are early highlights, “Not a Real Cop” a genuinely lovely little piece.
The orchestral hijinks which dominate are slick and professional but in truth not particularly memorable. When the emphasis is on rambunctious comedy, it all gets a bit too much for me, seeming to lack character in a way that few Giacchino scores do; and most of the action tracks fail to leave an impression. An exception is “Case of the Manchas” in the middle of the score, which has a lot more oomph. The occasional trips around the musical world, with influences from Indian to Italian, do give a slight colour to an otherwise fairly bland experience, but that’s about all they do. It has some excellent cues but without any strong themes and with a style that tends to flit about from this to that leading to a real lack of cohesion, Zootopia is an unusually unsatisfying listening experience by this excellent composer’s standards and is one of the dullest albums I can remember hearing from him, a far cry from the menagerie of thrills I was hoping for. The seven-minute suite that closes the album is I suspect all I’ll ever return to.