Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Poor Disney has been taking it on the nose lately. Marvel films have been getting sub par reviews and box office turnouts (despite making reasonable profits), their TV shows are getting more and more generic and “next product” feeling by the day. But nothing was as big of a box office blow to the chin than 2022’s Strange World. Losing roughly 100 million dollars, the generic animated film was probably the single biggest loss they’ve had since the stumbling of the 1990s with films like Treasure Planet and Atlantis DTV sequels dive bombing left and right. It didn’t help that critics of the film on the right were lambasting it for being one of the “wokest” films of the decade, and with the contention between left and right political parties, the film just got lost in a sea of poor marketing and controversies, barely garnering $27 million domestically on a $130 million budget (and that’s before marketing etc). Needless to say, I was curious to see just how good, bad, or ugly the film really was waiting for the home/digital release.
Strange World opens up with Alan Tudyk narrating about the exploits of the great Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) was, and showing him and his son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal) looking to get over the mountains in order to save his fair city. However, Searcher was not like his dad. Unlike Jaeger, Searcher was more inclined to see what was in front of his face, instead of a giant world to explore. In a disagreement about what to explore, Jaeger went over the mountains (never to be seen from again) while Searcher took back a strange new plant that they dubbed “Pando” to dissect further. Turns out Searcher was right. Pando became one of the biggest discoveries of their time, turning the world of Avalonia into a beautiful utopia thanks to the unlimited energy that Pando could produce.
However, things turn south when Pando starts dying and wilting on the vine over the nation of Avalonia. Researchers have discovered that the plant has a single nervous system of roots that travels deep underground, and now it’s up to Searcher and a group of scientists to head underground and figure out what’s killing the plant before it’s too late and their unlimited energy is depleted. As you can guess, things go sideways, with the scientific crew punching through a hole in the earth and finding out that there is an entire world on the inside of the planet core (serious Journey to the Center of the Earth or Jurassic World vibes).
That being said, the real problem in the film is that it’s completely generic. We have themes of collaborating in the face of difficult situations with people you normally would disagree with. Some commentary on various types of masculinity, but it never goes beyond skin deep. The story just scratches the surface and pretends to ask hard questions, when all it does is create easy answers and shuffle them under the table to be ignored for later. It didn’t help in the slightest that Disney was basically radio silent on the marketing either. Most people I knew didn’t even hear about the movie unless they were watching a preview on Hulu or something. Nobody knew ANYTHING about the film, and it came and went from it’s winter theatrical run with only a fraction of the audience actually going to see it. Sad, but it is what it is.
Rated PG by the MPAA
• Strange Science – Jaboukie Young-White (voice of Ethan Clade) hosts an exploration of how Walt Disney Animation Studios artists were inspired by real science to create Strange World.
• Creature Feature – Journey into the world beneath Avalonia and meet some of the terrifying, slimy, gassy – and sometimes cute – creatures that inhabit this Strange World.
• The Hidden Secrets of Strange World – Uncover the references and characters from some of your favorite Walt Disney Animation Studios films hidden throughout the film, along with some fun facts and behind–the–scenes stories of how Strange World was made.
• Outtakes – Go behind the glass as we join the cast of Strange World inside the recording booth for some fun, flubs and outtakes.
• Deleted Scenes
-- The Ballad of Jaeger Clade
-- Lightning Lynx
-- Funerals and Promises
-- Ethan and Searcher
Is Strange World a bad movie? I don’t think so. It’s heavily flawed with a weak story, poor marketing, and a general feeling that Disney saw the test screenings of the film and just decided to not pour any effort into hyping it up before dumping it on the theatrical market. At the end of the day it’s a generic animated film with GORGEOUS animation (and lovely 3D from what I hear in the theatrical release), but one that also makes Disney’s Treasure Planet look like a masterpiece in comparison. Low rental is my personal recommendation.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, Alan Tudyk, Karan Soni
Directed by: Don Hall, Qui Nguyen
Written by: Qui Nguyen
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Digital Release Date: December 22nd, 2022