Do you remember when Disney used to make classic animated movies? Seems like a long time ago to me. In my opinion, Disney’s last good animated movie was “Zootopia” and Pixar’s last movie was “Coco”. Now it seems that Disney doesn’t think or care about the most important aspect of any of their movies, which is the story.
Jaeger Clyde (Dennis Quaid) is an adventurous explorer who leads an expedition team to find life outside his land of Avalonia. She is accompanied by her less adventurous son, the Explorer (Jake Gyllenhaal), who accidentally stumbles upon an energy-producing plant named Pando. Jaeger wants to move on, but the explorer feels it’s more important to return home to use this new energy source to provide power and technological advancements for his entire village. Years later, Avalonia has become a mini-utopia for Pando’s quest. One day, the explorer discovers that something is infecting and killing Pando, and if nothing is done to stop the infection, Pando may become extinct. The explorer goes on a new expedition beneath the surface to find the root of the problem. He is accompanied by his wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union), his son Ethan (Jabouki Young-White), and a team of explorers. They must face a strange new world to stop a life-altering disaster.
I’d say “Strange World” was more fun than Lightyear, but even that’s not saying much. I can tell that this movie was going to be a hard sell just from the trailers that were released. This is another ordinary Disney movie. My performance of “Strange World” had ten people at most and no enthusiasm. It is good that “strange world” is a strange world, but it also needs to be a beautiful world and, more importantly, an interesting world so that the audience is not bored. The designs are just not very interesting, and all look very similar. There is an abundance of pink and orange in this world. The creatures are either plasma or squid designs and, again, neither lacks charm. One of the main characters, Splat, is just a walking blue slime. I will give Disney credit for allowing this creature to express itself through pantomime instead of giving it an annoying celebrity voice to communicate with the other characters.
There are many messages in this movie. The main message is to save the environment, but another is that fathers and sons must behave. In this film, both fathers plan their sons’ futures for them without giving them a choice. And it’s these back-and-forth arguments that ultimately lead to acceptance of their sons and their dreams. “Strange World” also introduces the first openly gay main character in a Disney animated movie.
As far as Ethan’s sexuality is concerned, it’s refreshing to see that Ethan never has to struggle or worry about acceptance from his family or society. It is also important to note that Ethan’s character is not defined by his sexuality, but by who he is as a person and the dreams he fulfills. Ethan is no different from the other characters in the film. He fails sometimes, but he never gives up and keeps trying. And because of this aspect, most people will be able to relate to Ethan, and he becomes the most likable character in the movie.
“Strange World” does a good job of sending a message about saving the environment and acceptance, but the story should always come first. Focusing on writing a compelling story should always be Disney’s main goal. If Disney wants to insert social messages or ideas into its movies, then come after it, but don’t overdo it, and never preach to your audience. Finally, the viewer should leave the entertainment. Let’s hope that going forward, Disney will start entertaining us more.
I give Strange World a 6/10.
Editor’s note: This article contains the views of the author, Joe Hogarty. These opinions may or may not be those of WDWNT LLC, Tom Corless, or anyone else on the planet. Please feel free to express your thoughts in the comments section below.