‘Strange World’ review – impressive animation but a family adventure that falls flat

Pitched as a tribute to the pulp adventures of yesteryear, ‘Strange World’s’ character work and eclectic visuals are not enough to save the story and adventure shortcomings of this animated Disney dud.
In a strange turn of events, Strange World has arrived in cinemas with barely any fanfare. A Disney theatrically released animated film is usually an annual event right up there with Pixar releases and MCU entries. And this new movie is led by Don Hall, the director and co-writer of the critically acclaimed Raya and the Last Dragon.
Ignoring the radio silence from Disney in the marketing department, Strange World has all the hallmarks of a solid family adventure with a charismatic cast and an on-brand premise. But despite all the ambition and stocking up on essential supplies, this family adventure struggles to get off the porch to explore even the front garden. Even with very good intentions and the promise of new discoveries, Strange World never takes off, and instead falls back on ideas and story elements we’re all far too familiar with.
It’s been 25 years since the great adventurer and hero Jaeger Clade (voiced by Dennis Quaid) left his young son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), to traverse the mountains that surround their hometown of Avalonia. Searcher, now a local hero himself for discovering a new energy source, is a farmer leading a quiet, non-adventuring life with his wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and his own son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White).
All is peaceful right up until Avalonia’s president, Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), calls on Searcher and his family to join her on a quest to save the town from an unknown threat – an adventure that will propel them across a mysterious and breathtaking landscape very different from what they know. Along the way, some new friends are made and some family ties are rediscovered, prompting Searcher to contemplate his role as a father and what it means to uphold his family legacy.
Right during the opening prologue, Strange World starts to fall off its axis with very shaky character motivation. The rift between Searcher and his father comes off as extremely forced and not backed up by the circumstances that precede it. What detracts from that rift further, and one of the film’s biggest running issues, is some of the worst spoken dialogue heard in a Disney movie in a long time. Characters recycle talking points throughout and state obvious facts, not ...