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  • 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.

Rating: ** | |

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  1. J.B. (Reply) on Saturday 27 February, 2016 at 22:34

    Yeah, that about sums it up. A big disappointment from Giacchino since his animation scores are usually pretty consistent.

  2. OPMac (Reply) on Sunday 28 February, 2016 at 03:29

    That’s a shame. I guess after writing so many good scores last year Giacchino may have been on autopilot for this one, although that is curious, given that I think he had a lot of time for this score. Let’s hope he returns to form for Star Trek Beyond!

  3. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Monday 29 February, 2016 at 11:34

    How often is it that the first two reviews on the front page of the website both start with “Zoo…”? Not that often, lemme tellya!

  4. OPMac (Reply) on Monday 29 February, 2016 at 21:15

    ^This man knows the priorities.

  5. James Southall (Reply) on Monday 29 February, 2016 at 21:16

    Filmtracks may have a hundred times more readers, but I don’t believe it has EVER reviewed two consecutive scores beginning with “Zoo”.

  6. OPMac (Reply) on Monday 29 February, 2016 at 21:45

    ^Prepare for Clemmensen. You have stepped into dangerous territory, James!

  7. Juan Bauti (Reply) on Friday 4 March, 2016 at 18:42

    Totally agree, most disappointing score from Giacchino to date. I know he comes to a very busy previous year 2015 (Jurassic World, Inside Up, Jupiter Ascending, Tomorrowland…excellent all of them), but that isn’t excuse enough.

  8. Roman (Reply) on Friday 18 March, 2016 at 05:56

    Caught the film over the weekend and really enjoyed it. But yeah Giacchino’s score was functional and that was about it. Some entertaining moments, but really it seemed to melt into the background. That seems a bit odd considering how much energy he usually gives his animation projects.

    i did notice something during the end credits, there was a credit for temp track editors. Now I wonder how closely Giacchino was held to a temp track. That might explain the lack of his usual energy and enthusiasm in this score.

    We end up with a minor work for a great movie. Usually it is the other way around. 🙂