Strange World

Strange World
Original title:Strange World
Director:Don Hall, Qui Nguyen
Running time:102 minutes
Release date:23 november 2022
The Clade, a family of legendary explorers, discover an unexplored world full of dangers and fantastic creatures. They are aided in their quest by a mischievous blob and their three-legged dog. Alas, the quarrels between its various members threaten to derail this new mission, which is - by far - the most crucial.

Mulder's Review

Strange World is it a film too far ahead of its time to really meet a large audience without leaving the impression of being a family film that can please children as well as adults. We suspect that this mix between Joe Dante's Innerspace, a universe worthy of HP Lovecraft's work with its various monstrous creatures and an intergenerational family story has enough qualities to hold our attention.

 The animation is always perfect, but the script by Qui Nguyen (Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) leaves us with the aftertaste of a cocktail that could have been perfect and hints at some ideas that must have displeased American audiences anchored on important family and religious values. While until now Walt Disney films have responded to a global vision of our society, the fact of introducing the character of Ethan Clade, a young homosexual teenager, into the story is by no means a good idea at the moment, especially for a film that is stamped as a family Christmas film. What is currently accepted must not become a new trend, except in the independent cinema, because it risks to offend a very large part of the public and especially to lead to a real public failure as it was the case recently with Bros (2022) by Nicholas Stoller.

Instead of being released in theaters in France, Strange World in particular, is given a direct release on Disney+ and above all could cause The Walt Disney Company to lose more than 140 million dollars. The film's budget of $180 million only brought in $54.6 million in the United States, making this film a huge public failure. To say that the success of a film is due to the messages it conveys and the fact that the public can identify with it is an undeniable fact and this film, despite its many qualities, is a simple detail that puts its success in total doubt. 

Some might also say that this film would have deserved a better promotion to hold the attention of the press and influencers of all kinds (by dint of wanting to gain views, film studios seem to rely on uneducated youtubers and other Instagrammers with egos as oversized as their lack of general culture abysmal). Yet Strange World proves endearing to this close-knit family who live in the shadow of their great adventurer ancestor. 

Strange World is an invitation to go on an adventure, to bring to our society an important element and above all an undeniable proof that the Walt Disney Animation studios remain with Pixar the precursors of tomorrow's cinema. By constantly revolutionizing the way films are made and pushing the limits of computer animation, this film is a good example of the importance of animated films in forging and making a large audience accept the fact of having a true open mind even if certain ideas do not please the public. In this new film, we discover a legendary family of explorers, the Clades (grandfather, father and mother, and son), who attempt to navigate an uncharted and treacherous land alongside a motley crew that includes a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog, and a host of ravenous creatures. As in all Walt Disney Animation films, the care given to the scenario and the animation are visible on the screen and we will regret not being able to discover it on the big screen in the cinema.

One suspects that the writers Jules Vernes and HP Lovecraft were important sources of inspiration for the scriptwriter Qui Nguyen. In the same way, the musical score of composer Henry Jackman reinforces our adhesion to this film and makes Strange World a family entertainment (subject to the parents having to explain to their children the singularity of the character Ethan Clade in the Disney universe). Director Don Hall, who has long been an accomplished screenwriter at the Walt Disney Company Studios, has established himself with equally successful films such as Winnie the Pooh (2011), Big Hero 6 (2014) and most recently the very successful Raya and the Last Dragon (2021). Again he proves to be very good at depicting succulent dishes that make you want to be devoured. The director is also skilled in offering a great adventure film out of the too angelic frame of many animated films. Some scenes are certainly disturbing and could scare a very young audience.

Strange World is a very good film despite the very cold reception received in the United States and mostly unfounded. The Walt Disney Company studios took a big risk and paid dearly for it by putting themselves on the back of many narrow-minded spectators. One suspects that its reception in France will be more up to the task of recognizing the great care taken in the making of this film. One comes out of it with the desire to dive back into the books of Jules Verne and above all one hopes that the next Disney animated films will be released again in theaters, which remains the best place to discover films with great spectacle like this one.

Strange World
Directed by Don Hall, Qui Nguyen
Screenplay by Qui Nguyen
Produced by Roy Conli
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu
Cinematography : Tracy Scott Beattie (layout), Brian Leach (lighting)
Edited by Sarah K. Reimers
Music by Henry Jackman
Production companies : Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release dates : November 15, 2022 (El Capitan Theatre), November 23, 2022 (United States),December 23, 2022 (France) 
Running time : 102 minutes

Seen on December 16, 2022 (screener press)

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