Strange World is releasing just in time for Christmas on Disney Plus and what better way to check how it fairs with the kids than from a big kid who went along with his two young children. Does Disney’s latest theatrical animated release deserve some of the hate online or do we have a new classic on our hands?
Strange world is the latest animated release from Walt Disney Animation Studios and see’s us join the Clades, a legendary family of explorers tasked with finding a way over or through the mountains surrounding their home town of Avalonia in hopes of making a better life for all their fellow citizens. Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is determined to fulfil his lifelong quest to be the first over the mountains yet in trying to do so he leaves his son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal) after Searcher finds a mysterious plant that may hold the key to Avalonia’s future. Fast forward 25 years and Searcher now has a son of his own, Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) and is honoured with the discovery of that mysterious plant now referred to as Pando.
Pando creates an electrical type charge from its fruits and has been cultivated and integrated into every part of Avalonia’s very DNA. The entire city runs on it, yet they still cannot get over the mountains. When the Pando begins to show signs of disease, Searcher must reluctantly re-visit his adventurer past and travel into the depths of the earth to find out what is happening with the Pando and hopefully save Avalonia.
Getting to the root of the problem won’t be easy and with Ethan and his wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) unexpectedly joining in the adventure Searcher must use all the knowledge he has and hope for a little luck along the way.
The scenery in Strange World is the show stealer here. Director Don Hall has crafted an amazing subterranean world full of strange creatures that all fit within the Disney mould yet feel fresh and new. There are fish-like creatures constantly moving in schools throughout the sky, quirky blob things that show so much emotion yet have no lines and the odd ferocious being to throw a sense of danger in for fun. The entire world is alive and constantly moving the colour palette is vibrant and the character models give off a bit of an Encanto feel. Throughout the entire movie (we had a local cinema to ourselves) my kids were commenting on the sheer beauty that was before their eyes and if I am being honest, it is about where the interaction ended for them.
The story for Strange World is a very straightforward one without too many unnecessary subplots thrown in. The world as it is known is in danger and it is up to the Clades along with the team of government officials to track down the source of the problem and eradicate it so that life can return to normal without having to face the prospect of change.
I actually found the story to be one of Disney’s strongest in some time. It has elements of environmental accountability, acceptance and how important your family and loved ones are to your own growth. Unfortunately, it is missing some of that Disney charm putting Strange World amongst such titles as Treasure Planet or Atlantis. That magic as much as it pains me to say is the lack of musical numbers. Strange World misses out on that catchy title track that would have elevated it to compete with other titles from Disney’s recent catalogue but Strange Planet is different and has a very worthy story to tell.
Now I wouldn’t be doing right by you the reader if I didn’t address some of the perceived controversies leading up to and after the release of Strange Planet. Firstly, the story does have a heavy environmental message and many have tried to push their thoughts on others and what exactly it means to them. While the story does have that environmental main point there is a lot going on and like anything you watch it’s up to you what you make of it. For me it was a worthy story to tell and told in an interesting and different way, it has resonated with me more so than my kids but they are only young still.
Secondly Strange World features Disney animation’s first openly gay character in Ethan giving some in the writing world to jump on their soap boxes and perceive through their reviews that this is major part of the movie and you must boycott it at all costs.
Don’t listen to them, without spoiling anything know this. Ethan is a teenager crushing on one of his class mates, and that is about the end of it. It is actually endearing how it is approached and Ethans family act exactly how you would think a family would in that situation. Searcher is the dorky father who just goes out of his way to embarrass his son and there is a moment between Ethan and his grandfather that is so wholesome I still laugh about it now.
That being said Disney’s Strange World is a great movie to sit back and watch over the holidays. It’s gorgeous scenery, touching family moments and story have just a pinch of that Disney magic but unfortunately fall short of some of the massive hits that you might expect. It is well worth the watch you just need to go in not expecting another Frozen or Encanto.
Strange World has been fast-tracked to Disney Plus just in time for Christmas break arriving on December 23rd
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