The COP27 UN Summit recently ended with the political pygmies squabbling over an agreement which the rest of know will be ignored within days hastening the environmental destruction of the planet. It’s the political equivalent of a toddler wetting the bed and hoping that no one will notice. So the release of the animated Strange World with its own environmental theme is well timed. The Clade family are headed up by the legendary explorer Jaeger (Dennis Quaid) whose heroics are outlined in a brilliantly rendered series of comic book panels before we catch up with him leading his son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal) on an expedition. But it’s not long before they soon fall out and the father stubbornly continues on his way leaving his teenage son and the others behind. But all is not lost as we pick up with Searcher 25 years later who refuses to follow his father’s tradition of exploring, Instead he is in a mixed race marriage which has produced a gay son Ethan who looks after their three legged dog (a missed opportunity not naming him, ‘Tripod’) – with such a cast of characters all boxes are ticked.
Searcher has become a farmer harvesting plant pods that provide an energy source that sustains and develops a whole new future for the city built on that power source. In a different way to his father he has become a hero but all of this is to come to an end when they find that the plant pods are infected with a disease that will kill all the harvest and in turn the cities they power. So its along with his family that they go on a mission in their flying ship beneath the surface of their world, the Strange World of the title, to get to the root which connects all the pod plants in order to eradicate whatever is killing the plant. The Strange World is a violet and pink hued one with a number of dangers they have to battle and along the way befriend a creature, a loveable blob in a manner that Gemma Collins can only dream of being and there’s a knowing self-deprecating throwaway joke from this Disney film about merchandizing that raises a smile.
It’s not a stretch of the imagination to realise just who Searcher will bump into after 25 years and Strange World’s theme about environmental care although here its idea that plant power runs at odds with the plant pods used for its plot that like Japanese knotweed – initially seems well meaning but ultimately could destroy the very fabric of society in a not dissimilar manner to Liz Truss introducing her economic budget. Alongside this is the importance of father-son relationships and that fight as we might, we do become our parents, a horrifying idea when you realize that Dianne Abbot is a mother. Strange World looks great and on the eve of a new Avatar film the world that they have created here would have looked great in 3D. Though it perhaps is not on a level with the very best Pixar films this is still an exciting film with a worthwhile message that families can enjoy
Watch Jake Gyllenhaal turns up to introduce the film …..
Here’s the Strange World trailer…….