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Review: Disney’s ‘Strange World’

Walt Disney Animation Studios‘ latest movie, Strange World, takes full advantage of the old-school big-screen adventure movie on which Disney has put its name on countless times – and that’s a good thing!

The film introduces a rather chaotic family of explorers, the Clades, as they attempt to navigate an uncharted, treacherous land alongside a motley crew that includes a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog (WHO STEALS THE SHOW!) and a slew of ravenous creatures.

The story begins with an introduction to a family of explorers, the Clades. They live in the town of Avalonia, which lies by an impassable mountain range, but the rough-and-tumble explorer,  Father Jaeger, has big aspirations to explore the unexplorable. But Searcher Clade, Jaeger’s son, discovers a new plant called “Pando”, — which gives off electricity, potentially allowing a brand-new energy source that could modernize civilization for Avalonia. Jaeger wants to push forward and explore the unknown, but Searcher wants to explore this new resource right before him. Jaeger ultimately goes missing, and Searcher returns home as a hero and changes Avalonia for the better with this newly discovered resource.

Many years later, Searcher learns that Pando is dying, and the Avalonians’ way of life is at risk. They go on an expedition to save the plant and discover a rather Strange World.

This is where the movie really comes alive in terms of its animation. The over-the-top vibrant colours and dynamic animation make for a stunning film. Even a few brief moments of simple hand-drawn animation are so effective to the overall visuals of Strange World.

Strange World also introduces us to an openly gay character in a Disney Animated movie for the first time. It’s handled wonderfully, feeling natural, authentic, and seamlessly blending in within the film, as it should.

The impressive voice cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal as Searcher Clade; Dennis Quaid as Searcher’s larger-than-life explorer father, Jaeger; Jaboukie Young-White as Searcher’s 16-year-old son, Ethan; Gabrielle Union as Meridian Clade, and Lucy Liu as Callisto Mal.

“Strange World” is helmed by Don Hall (“Big Hero 6,” “Raya and the Last Dragon”) and co-director/writer Qui Nguyen (co-writer “Raya and the Last Dragon”), and produced by Roy Conli (“Big Hero 6,” “Tangled”).

In short, Strange World doesn’t feel particularly unique in its story, but it has a sense of warmth and familiarity, which will almost certainly delight families. Strange Worlds’ message about parenthood and the environment makes it something not to be missed.

Check out Disney’s Strange World, released globally in theatres on November 23.

Tom Hedley
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