Disney’s Strange World: Movie Review


Promotional poster for Strange World/Disney.

James Steigerwald, Feature Editor

The newest installment in the Disney franchise, Strange World was released in theaters on November 23rd. Strange World explores a community called Avalonia, which is surrounded by impassable mountains. In an expedition through the mountains with his father, Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers a plant with special fruit, almost balls of energy. He wants to bring this discovery back to the town, though his father Yaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is dead set on making it to the other side of the mountains, and goes on without him.

25 years later, we see Searcher’s discovery has changed the lives of the citizens of Avalonia. These balls of energy he had found, a crop called “Pando”, is the power source for almost everything, like vehicles and home appliances. Searcher’s father hasn’t been seen since the expedition, though is still highly praised by the town, much to Searcher’s annoyance. The story kicks off when a mysterious infection starts infecting the crop, and Searcher is recruited to journey through the earth to find the source of this infection.  

 The world-building in this movie is very well done. As the title suggests, the world Searcher and his crew come across, is in fact, strange. Everything in the world outside of Avalonia is quite literally alive. The colors are vibrant, the creatures are unique in design, and some of the shots and cinematography really stood out. A specific one-liner I just have to point out is when a character sees one of the creatures and yells, “I want to merchandise this!” It seems Disney has become somewhat self-aware. 

 Sadly, worldbuilding is one of the only things allows this film to maintain mediocrity. Without it, the movie would be..well..not very good.  The overarching theme and messages of the movie aren’t necessarily bad, they’re not just not explored enough. The theme is mainly centered around legacy, specifically family legacy; a theme pretty commonly explored in Disney movies. A character tries to become their own person, though is struggling to break from the barriers imposed upon them by their family, or family figure. This isn’t a bad dynamic. But if a movie is going to approach it, it needs to stand out in some way. The way this movie addressed the topic was very basic. The emotional beats and heartfelt moments felt bland and didn’t really offer much. The character development didn’t feel gradual or realistic either.

This movie is by no means terrible; the family dynamics were actually quite fun at times, the action scenes were pretty darn great, and the comedy was decent. It just felt like it was lacking something.  

 I really appreciate what this movie was trying to accomplish, but it was just too surface-level. It needed to dig a whole lot deeper into its themes and characters. But man was that worldbuilding outstanding.