I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.
Title: Strange World
Release Date: November 23, 2022
Director: Don Hall and Qui Nguyen
Production Company:Walt Disney Pictures | Walt Disney Animation Studios
I’d wanted to see this movie in the theaters but was very busy in November and December, and then suddenly it was streaming. I finally figured that I won’t be seeing it on the big screen so I gave it a watch. The latest animated Disney feature explores familiar themes in a, um, strange world. In a land called Avalonia, Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is an explorer intent on discovering what lies beyond the mountains surrounding their country. His son Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) is content to live the life of a farmer and discovers Pando, a plant that provides a power source for Avalonia. Searcher’s teenage son Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) has more of his grandfather’s eagerness to explore.
So we have two fathers who want their son to follow in their footsteps, and two sons who a resentful that their fathers won’t see them as who they really are. The three come together, along with Ethan’s mother/Searcher’s wife Meridian Clade (Gabrielle Union), in an adventure beneath the surface of Avalonia as they seek to learn why the root of the Pando plants appears to be dying. There’s a twist to the story that felt easy to anticipate, although it’s still makes the “strange world” an interesting concept. The visual design would’ve been worth seeing on a big screen, for sure.
Strange World is a perfectly cromulent movie, which while it doesn’t stand on par with other Disney animated movies of the past decade, it also didn’t deserve to be a box office bomb. I guess it could stand to be even stranger than it is and the father-son relationship story didn’t need to be pat. There’s something about Disney when the reach out into higher concept stories like The Black Cauldron, Dinosaur, or Atlantis: The Lost Empire where they just miss the mark of something that could’ve been great. Who knows, maybe Strange World can be the source of fantastic attraction at Epcot one day.