Disney's Strange World is a forgettable visual feast

November 27, 2022 10:03 am

It follows a family of explorers looking to save their planet’s renewable energy source. [Source: 1News]

Strange World is a retro sci-fi throwback, inspired by pulp magazines from the early 20th century and it dives hard into that aesthetic.

The story revolves around the Clade family, once famous explorers led by Jaeger Clade. After Jaeger goes missing on a mission, his son Searcher discovers a renewable energy source which powers their home of Avalon.

Twenty-five years go by and now that energy source, named Pando, is depleting, so they journey to the centre of the earth (similar to the Jules Verne novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth) to find out what’s causing the issue.

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In an unsurprising plot twist which is the crux of the marketing, they run into Jaeger who has been isolated down there for the past two and a half decades. With Searcher’s son Ethan tagging along, we now have three generations of Clade forced to put their differences behind them if they’re going to save their world.

Also there’s a little amorphous blob named Splat who is totally cute.

The film has a lot going for it. The design of the titular Strange World is very fun and visually interesting. If you’ve ever gotten a coffee table book of concept art for a film and it’s all these beautiful drawings and wonderful designs which end up watered down in the film, well, Strange World is like a movie version of that book without the watering down. That might seem like a strange way to describe it but hey, it’s a strange world.

The film also has some of Disney’s best queer representation they’ve ever had. It seems like every few months Disney advertises their first gay character and Strange World is no different. Ethan is touted as Disney’s first gay teen main character and his characterisation is probably the best from the studio.

They’re still not quite at the stage of using the “G” word but it’s better than Jungle Cruise’s character whose “interests happily lay elsewhere” or The Rise of Skywalker’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it out of focus background lesbian kiss.

Looking at the story overall though, the plot beats are fairly predictable, I can’t remember a time where I felt surprised where the story went or that I didn’t know where it was going.

There’s many attempts to cut through the serious moments of humour but none of the humour ever really landed for me or anyone else in my screening actually.

The idea of a big budget animated Disney movie which is a throwback to pulpy retro sci-fi had me really excited but I left feeling like this is another passable but ultimately forgettable Disney flick a la Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Home on the Range, etc.

It’s a massive bummer that this was a Disney tentpole release for the year but they pushed Pixar’s Turning Red, one of the best films of the year onto streaming.