MOVIE REVIEW: “Strange World” – another mediocre performance from Disney

Remember when Disney made classic animated films? It seems like a long time ago. In my opinion, the last good Disney animation was Zootopia and the last Pixar was Coco. Now it seems that Disney just doesn’t think about or care about the most important aspect of any of their films, which is the story.

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Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a brave explorer leading an expedition team to find life outside of their land of Avalonia. He is accompanied by his unbrave son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), who accidentally stumbles upon an energy-producing plant he names pando. Jaeger wants to advance, but Searcher feels it is more important to return home to harness this new source of energy to provide electricity and technological advances for her entire village. Years later, thanks to the discovery of Pando, Avalonia has become a mini utopia. One day Searcher discovers that something is infecting and killing the pando, and if nothing is done to stop the infection, pando may die out. Searcher embarks on a new expedition below the surface to find the root of the problem. He is joined by his wife, Meridian (Gabrielle Union), his son, Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White), and a crew of explorers. You must encounter a strange new world to prevent a life-shattering catastrophe.

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I’ll say that Strange World was more entertaining than Lightyear, but that’s not saying much either. I could already tell from the released trailers that this movie was going to be a hard sell. It’s just another mediocre Disney movie. My screening of Strange World had ten people at most and no enthusiasm. It’s great that Strange World is a strange world, but it also has to be a beautiful world and, more importantly, an interesting world so the audience doesn’t get bored. The designs just aren’t very interesting, and everything looks too similar. There is an abundance of pinks and oranges in this world. The creatures come in either a plasma or squid design and lack any allure. One of the main characters, Splat, is just a walking blue slime. I’ll thank 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 film. The main message revolves around saving the environment, but the other has to do with fathers and sons. Both fathers in this film planned their sons’ futures without giving them any choice. And it’s the back and forth that eventually leads to acceptance of her sons and her dreams. Strange World also introduces the first openly gay protagonist in a Disney animated film.

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As far as Ethan’s sexuality is concerned, it’s refreshing to see that Ethan never has to fight or worry about being accepted by his family or society. It’s also important to note that Ethan’s character is not defined by his sexuality, but by who he is as an individual and what he dreams of achieving. Ethan isn’t perfect, unlike other characters in the film. He fails sometimes, but he never gives up and keeps trying. And because of that aspect, most people will relate to Ethan, and he becomes the most likable character in the film.

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Strange World does a good job with messages about environmentalism and acceptance, but the story always has to come first. Focusing on creating a compelling story should always be Disney’s primary goal. If Disney wants to infuse messages or views about society into its films, let that come later, but don’t overdo it and never preach to your audience. After all, an audience needs to be entertained. Let’s hope Disney will entertain us more in the future.

I give Strange World 6/10.

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

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