Strange World review: A rather tame animation adventure from the house of Disney


Film: Strange World
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Lucy Liu, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union
Directors: Don Hall, Qui Nguyen
Rating: 2.5/5
Runtime: 101 mins

The world of animation has moved on but Disney has not. While it’s great that Disney has held on to its old-fashioned values template, it’s not quite marketable in this day and age of materialism trumping all else. This house of Walt Disney animation creation is inclusive (keeping in mind the contemporary) but lacks a sense of fun so even the adventure into a strange world feels beleaguered and boring. It’s Disney’s 61st animated feature, and it seems rather ‘Strange’ that Disney has failed to get its entertainment formula right.

The story is about the Clades, a legendary family of explorers. Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal), after his father goes missing in exploration, has become a farmer living in his father’s shadow. But a crisis on his farm forces him to don the explorer garb once again and become party to a major discovery of a fantastical world. Will the new discovery paper over old resentments, is the question this film tries to answer? Strange World attempts to pay homage to classic adventure films but Co-directors Don Hall and Qui Nguyen (also scriptwriter) fail to make this experience exciting or inveigling for that matter. The movie is stuck in the cliché zone and there are no clever homages to get you out of that ennui. The movie tries too hard to push forward numerous elements into the mix and burdens the narrative into a drag.

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With a rainbow cast of characters and writing that takes the inclusiveness in its stride, it’s a real shame that this film doesn’t have what it takes to get the young ones flocking to the theatres. The inclusive representation is rather commendable. Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal as Jaeger and Searcher – a father-son explorer team-up, Gabrielle Union as Meridian Clade and Lucy Liu as Callisto Mal as female equivalents who are as capable and resourceful as their male counterparts, and Jaboukie Young-White’s Ethan Clade as Disney’s first gay main character – who also symbolizes the generational shift in Disney’s creative, mark up an interesting enough set. But, though fashionable in terms of character traits, the old-fashioned ideology that roots this experience doesn’t cut ice anymore. The game voice cast tries hard to infuse enthusiasm and joy into the narrative but the deadpan treatment makes it feel rather lukewarm.

The overall presentation and looks of each of the characters are unique enough. The visual exploration is also brilliantly animated. The coloring though could have done better with brighter, delineating hues. Though short and sweet on runtime, this filmed narrative is neither light nor breezy enough to keep the young ones interested, nor is it deep or meaningful enough to captivate an adult audience.

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