Strange World Movie Review & Movie Summary (2022)

Strange World is the latest collaboration from co-directors Don Hall and Qui Nguyen, who previously worked with Hall’s co-directors Paul Briggs and Carlos L√≥pez Estrada on Raya and the Last Dragon. It’s always hard to know how to praise collaborations of this scale and nature, but Nguyen’s solo writing on Strange World stands out, as does his credit for co-directing (this is his debut film). Hall isn’t sluggish either; his name, which has appeared on recent Disney hits like Moana, Big Hero 6 and Winnie the Pooh, also seems notable.

After Raya and the Last Dragon, Strange World feels like a less demanding and therefore more comfortable union of Hall and Nguyen’s talents. These guys clearly saw, and maybe even studied, the Disney cartoons that shaped the animated renaissance of the ’90s. (Seriously, have you seen Big Hero 6?). So it’s nice to see that with Strange World they’ve found a project that brings out the best in their combined talents and doesn’t just feel like it’s focused to death.

“Strange World” zips along at an easy pace that makes up for its lack of dramatic tension. Wayward explorer Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) abandons his insecure son Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal). Searcher wants his father to follow him his for once, and in this case watch out for a mysterious green plant he names Pando, but Jaeger dismisses both Searcher and Pando. Twenty-five years elapse in the blink of an intertitle after Searcher abandons his fellow adventurers to find the outer limits of Avalonia, the remote mountain valley of the Clades. During this time, Searcher has become Avalonia’s hero since they took over Pando as the city’s main power supply. Now a pando farmer, Searcher’s world revolves around his crops and his family: his loving aviator wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union), his slightly embarrassed teenage son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White), and Legend, their three-legged dog.

When the pando plants no longer give off the electrical charge they used to have, Callisto (Lucy Liu), one of Jaeger’s old explorer friends, enlists a reluctant seeker to help her figure it out. And he does, with his wife and son in tow. Together they descend into a large hole in the ground, where they discover a living, Pandora-like world full of diverse creatures, plants, and other sentient animals that look like they’ve been drawn from old biology textbook illustrations. They also quickly stumble upon Jaeger, who now lives among the amoeba forests and acidic rivers. He and Searcher play catch-up while Searcher chases after Ethan, who is always a few steps ahead.

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