MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Strange World’ — Another Mediocre Effort By Disney

Remember when Disney used to make classic animated movies? It seems like a long time ago. In my opinion, the last good Disney animated film was Zootopia, and the last Pixar animated film was Coco. Now, Disney just doesn’t seem to think about or even care about the most important aspect of any of their movies, which is the story.

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Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a brave explorer who leads an expedition team to find life outside their home country of Avalonia. He is accompanied by his not-so-brave son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), who stumbles upon an energy-producing plant he names Panda. Jaeger wants to move on, but Searcher finds it more important to return home to use this new energy source to provide power and technological advancement for the entire village. Years later, Avalonia became a mini-utopia thanks to the discovery of Panda. One day, Searcher discovers that something is infecting and killing Panda, and if something isn’t done to stop the infection, Panda may become extinct. The searcher goes on a new expedition below the surface to find the cause of the problem. He is joined by his wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union), his son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) and a team of researchers. They must face a strange new world to prevent a life-threatening disaster.

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I will say that “Strange World” was more enjoyable than Lightyear, but even that’s not saying much. I could already tell from the trailers that were released that this movie was going to be a tough sell. It’s just another average Disney movie. There were ten people at most at my Strange World show and no enthusiasm. It’s great 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 doesn’t get bored. The designs are just not very interesting and everything looks too similar. There is an abundance of pink and orange in this world. The creatures are plasma or squid shaped and again have no fascination whatsoever. One of the main characters, Splat, is just a walking blue slime. I give credit to Disney for allowing this creature to express itself through pantomime instead of giving it an annoying celebrity voice to communicate with other characters.

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There are many messages in this movie. The main message is about protecting the environment, but the second one has to deal with fathers and sons. Both fathers in this film plan their sons’ future without giving them a choice. And it’s the back-and-forth that leads to the final acceptance of their sons and their dreams. “A Strange World” also features the first openly gay main character in a Disney animated film.

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As for Ethan’s sexuality, it’s refreshing to see that Ethan never has to struggle or worry about being accepted by family or society. It is also important to note that the character of Ethan is not defined by his sexuality, but by who he is as an individual and what he dreams of achieving. Ethan is not perfect, unlike the other characters in the film. Sometimes he fails, but he never gives up and tries. And because of this aspect, most people will be able to relate to Ethan and he becomes the most likable character in the movie.

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“A Strange World” does well with messages about saving the environment and acceptance, but the story must always come first. Disney’s main goal should always be to focus on writing a compelling story. If Disney wants to put messages or views on society into their movies, let it come later, but don’t overdo it and never preach to the audience. In the end, the audience should leave entertained. Let’s hope Disney starts entertaining us more in the future.

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I give Strange World a 6/10.

Editor’s note: This article contains the opinions of author Joe Hogarty. These opinions may or may not reflect those of WDWNT LLC, Tom Corless, or anyone else on this planet. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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