“A Strange World” Review: A Well-Intentioned Film that Falls Short
The New Disney Studios Movie is Edgy in Some of its Themes, but Falls Short in its Execution. This is Our Review of "A Strange World".
Photo: YT-Disney Studios
LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa López Romero
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"A strange world" is the most recent film from Disney Studios, which, compared to other titles such as "Encanto" or "Lightyear", it seems that it has not had as much reach in the media. Even when this new movie has an openly gay character (as in “Lightyear”) and was threatened with a boycott by right-wing groups. But why this?
The film directed by Don Hall (“Big Hero 6” and “Moana”) and co-directed and written by Qui Nguyen (“Raya and the Last Dragon”) narrates the Vernesque adventure that the Clade family undertakes to find out what happens to the Pando. This is a plant that powers your country in the middle of the mountains, Avalonia, and that has generated unprecedented technological advancement since its discovery. Throughout the adventure, the main characters, grandfather, father and son, face and resolve the differences that have generated conflicts in their family life and discover that the monoculture of Pando is a danger to the subsistence of their world.
At first glance, "A Strange World" might seem like a movie that would win over a loyal audience for the themes it deals with. As we can see, it has a clear eco-friendly message, and it also gives it very directly when talking about the direct and indirect consequences of extractivism and monoculture. All this is done in a very nice and entertaining way, based on visual elements that generate strong emotions in the viewer.
Furthermore, the film manages to be cutting edge in terms of representation: first, we have Ethan Clade, the youngest of the family, a teenager who is openly gay. The most interesting thing about this is that the problem surrounding the character is not his homosexuality, since neither his family nor his friends see this as a problem or an anomaly. In this sense, the film normalizes an element that has been used historically in the cinema to revictimize this minority. Ethan's sexual orientation in the movie is nothing more than a character trait.
On the other hand, the male characters are diverse. Jaeger Clade, the grandfather, is an adventurous man who left his family to discover what lay beyond Avalonia, while Searcher Clade, the father, is a sensitive family man who loves plants and farming. Thus, Ethan, is an adventurer like his grandfather, but also has the sensitivity of his father and manages to mediate the generational differences in his family. Also, although less developed, "A Strange World" features strong female characters.
All of the above is added to the visual marvel that is the film, the design of characters, creatures, the world, and even costumes is always coherent, maintains a very well-defined aesthetic and the truth leaves you speechless.
However, this was not enough.
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If something is very evident, it is that in recent years, the animated productions that Disney has bet on, both from Disney Studios and from Pixar, are those that have problems of divisions overcome through acceptance, and not those in where there is a villain that must be bested.
Added to this, the generational drama is the one that has been exploited the most by Disney in its latest films. Like "Encanto" and "Red", "A Strange World" finds its plot difficulty in the generational differences that put the integrity of each individual in the family at risk, not the family itself.
In "A strange world", unfortunately, and despite its obvious good intentions, something similar to what happens with "Encanto" happens, the execution of the plot falls short, it is not developed enough for the film to go from being entertaining to really good. This is completely the opposite of what happens in “Red”, where the characters are explored in real and deep ways.
I would even go so far as to say that "Encanto" manages to surpass "A Strange World", at least in regards to its scope. Perhaps "Encanto" failed to have a strong enough execution to stand on its own, but its media coverage and the minimum sense and coherence in its argument did. However, "A Strange World" falls short. If it weren't for its visual power, the film would easily fall apart.
This happens because the characters are half developed. It seems that the effort of the director and the writer was focused on creating a striking and beautiful world, but the story, despite its potential, is weak and at some point even boring.
It is a pity that it is like that, because the film has successes. Especially when it is known that a story that delves into these problems and representations is so necessary. Let's hope that on a future occasion, Disney Studios will be able to surpass itself not only visually, but also in the plot.