Zootopia

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The Memorial Union Building at the University Near Here hosts a few free movies during the summer, so Mrs. Salad and I decided to check out Zootopia, a non-Pixar Disney animation feature issued earlier this year. Spoiler: it's funny and good-hearted. (And as I type it is #172 on IMDB's top-250 movies of all time.)

Zootopia is set on an Earth free of humans, but all the mammals have (roughly) human-level smarts and language skills. And—fortunately—the carnivorous ones have learned how to get along without feeding on the others. Old stereotypes die hard, though: there's a lingering mistrust of predators among their once-prey. Things aren't helped by the behavior of some bad eggs.

In addition, our bunny heroine, Judy Hopps, has to deal with breaking down a different longtime prejudice. Rabbits simply don't go on the police force in Zootopia. That's Judy's dream, though, and she's full of spunk and determination. Soon she's put on the case of a missing mammal: the meek Emmet Otterton has joined over a dozen mysteriously-vanished sharp-toothed once-predators. Judy dragoons a fox con-artist into helping her out, and (of course) he turns out to be unexpectedly useful.

So there's lots of action, clever lines, and (Disney animation, remember?) visual stunners. The ideological symbolism—diversity, tolerance, can't-we-all-just-get-along, yay!—is a little heavy-handed. "Biology" is used as near-synonym for bigotry, which probably is a relief to the trans-gendered audience segment.

But it's not a consistent message. A wonderful gag involves lemmings—well, acting like stereotyped lemmings. (Something Disney has done before!)

The Drop

[Amazon Link]

Gradually whittling down the Michael Connelly section of my to-be-read pile. The Drop came out in 2011. I hope I can manage to read them at least slightly faster than he writes them. I found this one to be a literal page-turner, ripping through it in just a couple days.

Harry Bosch is assigned two cases here. One is in his everyday wheelhouse: cold homicide cases, some dating back decades, examined with the latest forensic technology. Good news: the lab matches the DNA from a blood smear taken from a long-ago rape/murder victim to that of a known sexual predator. But bad news: the predator was eight years old when that crime was committed. Was there some sort of chain-of-evidence screwup, or is something else going on?

In the second case, Harry is recruited to investigate a very hot case: the son of Irvin Irving, Harry's longtime nemesis, has hit the sidewalk outside his seventh-floor room at the Chateau Marmont hotel. Accident, suicide, or homicide? Despite his Harry-hatred, Irving knows that if anyone can find out the facts, it's Bosch.

(It's interesting, somewhat, that the "Bosch" series on Amazon Prime takes place in a slightly different universe than the books. Irving's a much better person on TV, also blacker, and his son meets his demise in a totally different scenario.)

Bosch, of course, eventually gets to the bottom of everything. He not only needs to deploy his detective skills to the cases, but also to the "high jingo" of Los Angeles politics and inner LAPD workings. He also (potentially) gets a new girlfriend; we'll see how that works out.