Review of ‘Strange World’: Creative, Sincere Film Hindered by Disney Stereotypes

“Review of ‘Strange World’: Disney Takes Creative Leaps with Mixed Results”

Disney’s latest animated feature, “Strange World,” takes audiences on an adventure inspired by pulp magazines and early 2000s action-adventure films. While it represents Disney’s attempt to break away from its usual formula, it comes with both successes and challenges.

The story follows the Clades family, with adventurer Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) and his more farming-inclined son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), living in the land of Avalonia, surrounded by imposing mountains. A disagreement between them leads Jaeger to embark on a mission to explore the undiscovered land beyond the mountains, leaving Searcher and others behind. Fast forward 25 years, and Avalonia has thrived thanks to Searcher’s discovery of pando, a plant with electrical properties. When pando begins losing its energy, Searcher embarks on a journey underground, followed by his family, in search of answers and a connection to Jaeger’s mission.

“Strange World” impresses with its visually captivating and imaginative world, featuring vibrant landscapes and intriguing creatures reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. The film creates an ecosystem worth exploring, with neon birds, animated landmasses, and endearing characters like Splat.

Directors Don Hall and Qui Nguyen, who previously worked on “Raya and the Last Dragon,” excel in building captivating and immersive worlds that entice audiences to explore them.

However, the film’s characters and script do not match the quality of its world-building. The dialogue is filled with tropes and clichés commonly found in this genre, detracting from the film’s potential. While the Clade family is charming, their interactions often border on being overly saccharine.

Despite these script and character flaws, “Strange World” deserves credit for its progressive themes. The film delivers an ecological message about the need for significant change to preserve our planet, emphasizing that this change is both challenging and essential. Additionally, the film portrays Ethan, a queer character, and his crush, Diazo, as a genuine and natural part of the story, rather than a mere checkbox for representation.

Disney's Strange World Trailer Is a Modern Take On Old-School Sci-fi - IGN

In conclusion, “Strange World” represents Disney’s tentative steps toward breaking away from its conservative animated formula. While not all of its innovations hit the mark, its charm, progressive storytelling, and inventive world-building make its shortcomings forgivable. “Strange World” may not be a perfect film, but it’s exciting to see Disney take creative risks once again.

Rating: B-

“Strange World” is currently playing in theaters.

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