Strange World: A New Disney Adventure

L-R: Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid), Meridian Clade (Gabrielle Union), Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World. © 2022 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Don Hall is back with the newest Disney adventure taking us into strange new worlds–sorry, no Star Trek here–in Strange World.

I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist a Strange New Worlds comment. After all, this is the year of the strange on both the big screen and small. To anybody expecting to see Pike’s Peak aka Anson Mount, I’m sorry to disappoint you but this has nothing to do with that franchise.

It’s nice to see Disney taking us on an original animated adventure once again. They could have made another sequel again, which would be an easier sell for getting butts in seats. However, the Disney brand alone should be enough since this is the studio’s 61st feature film. What I enjoy about this action-packed adventure is how they draw inspiration from pulp magazines. You can see this in how they introduce Jaeger (Dennis Quaid) and Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal). There’s also a hint of Journey to the Center of the Earth and King Kong. What we know from the poster is that there’s a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog, and other creatures. I went into the film knowing nothing other than what was in the trailer and TV spots but they really manage to pull it off.

The last time that we saw Jake Gyllenhaal acting opposite Dennis Quaid was in The Day After Tomorrow. Once again, they’re playing father and son in a very different film. The chemistry from their previous collaboration definitely helps in this film even though their characters could not be more different in this one.

I’ll have more about the film below the photo but for those of you wondering, there is no end-credit scene.

Strange World
© 2021 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

What can one say about Strange World? Well, it’s colorful, for starters. There’s also two father-and-son storylines going on between Jaeger and Searcher and Searcher and Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White). They all have their different interests but Searcher is afraid that Ethan is going to end up like Jaeger. On another level, director Don Hall and co-director/screenwriter Qui Nguyen turn to the world of pulps as a way of grounding an allegory. It’s a rather interesting approach but a fascinating direction nevertheless. We’ll see if this is one of those things that plays better for adults rather than children. Obviously, I’m not going to dive into this too much ahead of the film’s release.

Years earlier on an expedition, Searcher discovered pando. It’s powered Avalonia ever since. However, something is happening to the pando crops and Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), the president, wants Searcher’s help in getting to the root of the problem. Unknowingly, Ethan stows away on the Venture and Searcher’s wife, Meridian (Gabrielle Union), ends up following behind. Before we know it, it becomes a family affair! Joining them for the ride is Legend, a three-legged dog who was thought up by Disney Legend/storyboard artist Burny Mattinson, and Splat, a mischievous blue-colored blob.

This is the sort of animated Disney film that would fit right in with their 1940s and 1950s output. Well, if they did computer animation during that era of filmmaking! When it comes to the Avalonian outfits, there’s no one area of the country that takes credit for inspiration. It’s a global affair if you know what I mean. If you’re wondering when exactly Strange World takes place, you can forget about it.

In an homage to the pulp serials, “They’re The Clades” is a catchy new tune from composer Henry Jackman and lyricist Kevin Del Aguila. Speaking of the music, the full orchestra is listed in the credits for the epic and sweeping score that Jackman composed. I love that this is happening more and more because they deserve it!

I hope Strange World is able to find an audience. My only fear is that the film having an openly gay character will end up driving a segment away. It shouldn’t though but bigots gonna bigot. It’s understandable if some families will wait for the film to hit Disney+ because of cost or Covid fears. With some cities recommending masking again, I can definitely understand their fears. But to say no to this film because of a gay character only ends up showing how hateful some people are. People should be allowed to live their lives without being afraid that someone is going to bully or kill them for being LGBTQ. I’m writing this on a Sunday night after another terrorist attack on the LGBTQ community so yeah, I am angry. This is on top of the rising levels of antisemitism right now. But I digress.

Strange World is an adventure that demands to be seen on the big screen.

CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu

Disney will release Strange World in theaters on November 23, 2022. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.