“Strange World” doesn’t deserve the hate


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Strange World may have flopped for Disney, but the movie has many redeeming qualities.

Lathan Pearce, Staff Writer

Two of Disney’s newest films, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Strange World” had drastically different box offices with the former breaking Nov. records while the latter is looking to lose $100 million by the end of its run. “Strange World” itself is pretty on par with several Disney movies animation-wise and even has LGBTQ+ representation which has been missing in many Disney movies of the past. However, it feels like the movie’s marketing can be attributed to a portion of the movie’s failure at the box office, seeing as the movie has plenty of good aspects to it,

The movie is about finding one’s own way, even if it’s different than what their parents wanted for them. It begins with Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his father Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) who are two explorers. However, Searcher no longer wants to explore, becoming a farmer instead, while his Father continues exploring for the next 20 years. This begins the development of the theme, and it goes even more in-depth between Searcher and his son, Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White)  The main power source of this world, a plant named  “Pando,” has begun to mysteriously die off. Searcher must go on a journey into the center of the world to save it. His family and some high-ranking military officials join him. Along the way, they meet back up with Jaeger decades after his disappearance, and this is where finding one’s own way is once again reintroduced throughout the rest of the movie.

The theme of the movie is perfect for Disney’s first openly gay main character. Ethan is seen flustered talking to another teen boy and later mentions his crush on the boy to his grandpa, Jaeger. Even though these scenes are about the only time this ever comes up during the movie, it left many people with mixed feelings about allowing this in a children’s movie. They’ve even gone as far as mass-voting one-star reviews on Google’s review page usually citing the “homosexual themes.” In my opinion, there’s no harm in having an openly gay character; in fact, I’d argue it was a positive part of the movie since Disney did a good job developing his personality, and not just leaning into gay stereotypes. 

A really impressive part of the movie is the environments that Searcher and his family go through. It uses a variety of vibrant colors such as lime green and pink to create a unique world that some would even label as strange. The colors do a really good job of keeping the audience’s eyes on a swivel, with many moving pieces to continuously grab the viewer’s gaze. 

A personal favorite creature of mine was a small, blue lifeform that can stretch its body out much farther than physically possible. The blob, dubbed “Splat” by Ethan, is mostly used as comedic relief. While there are moments where it is an important piece in moving the story along, most of its memorable scenes come from its interactions with the humans in the cast. While unable to communicate verbally, the physical comedy that ensues when it communicates with body language is among the best moments in the movie.  

The plot of “Strange World” is particularly twisty-turny. It goes from one point to another quickly, which, while providing for a fast-paced action adventure, leads to portions of the plot being brushed under the rug. It also has many plot twists, which may leave the viewer somewhat confused if they don’t pick up on it quickly enough. However, the world-building that goes into this more than likely one-off movie is quite outstanding and adds an extra element to a movie that sometimes felt lackluster in the plot department.

For what the movie is (a family-friendly exploration movie) it does great work making sure to keep a wide variety of audiences entertained. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, seeing as this is almost a Disney trademark at this point, but it’s still impressive nonetheless. There are many things to keep younger kids interested, like the bright colors and variety of new animals or the jokes that are clearly targeted at young audiences. However, there are plenty of elements, like hidden jokes and world-building, that can keep older audiences engaged through the full run-time. 

Even with “Strange World” flopping at the box office, I would recommend watching it at some point. “Strange World” was a fun movie that is better than its earnings would suggest. 

Contact Lathan Pearce at [email protected]