Plot: What’s it about?
When it comes to the world of computer animated films, the sky’s the limit. In the few decades since they’ve been around, countless new advances have been made to the front end of things, but the storytelling is something that’s always intrigued me. The key, I believe, to a good “family” film is that it works equally well for adults and kids. Pixar, in their earlier years, nailed this formula and it likely set the standard for others to follow in its footsteps. And so now we’ve got Strange World – a movie that makes no secret about using Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, as its inspiration.
We’re introduced to Jaeger Clade (voiced by Dennis Quaid), an explorer on an expedition with his team. His son, Searcher (voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers an energy-emitting plant that could potentially help people at home and he and the rest of the crew want to collect it and return. Jaeger refuses and is not seen again. We then flash forward twenty five years and Searcher is now married to Meridian (voiced by Gabrielle Union). They own a farm powered by “Pando”, the magic plant that he found some time ago. He explains to Ethan (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White), his son, that’s he’s set to take over the farm. It’s then brought to Searcher’s attention that a large sinkhole has opened up and the leader of Avalonia, Callisto (voiced by Lucy Liu) has asked that they investigate the source of the problem. What mysteries await in the center of the Earth?
Let’s face it, you could do a lot worse than by taking inspiration from the works of Jules Verne. Strange World is, well, essentially that – strange. There are creatures and scenes that I’d not seen in any other film and I can only imagine the level of creativity that the filmmakers employed to bring this to life (pardon the pun). I remember watching another “out there” film a few years back, Fantastic Planet. Watch these two back to back and you might not want to get behind the wheel of a car for a while. Where’d I get that reference from? Weird. OK, well anyway…Suffice it to say that there’s a lot to like about this movie and it reunites “father and son” Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal from The Day After Tomorrow. Awww, ain’t that sweet?
Video: How’s it look?
Ok, if it’s not evident by now that any computer-animated film is going to look amazing on your 4K TV then I don’t know what to tell you. Be it Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney or any of the other studios out there; it’ll look amazing. And so does this. hat can I say? Colors pop. Detail is razor sharp. Contrast is strong and just about every visible part of the color spectrum is represented here. The palette is littered with shades of pinks, blues and reds. It’s a very unique-looking image, but the 2.39:1 image simply looks so good you feel you can reach out and touch it. But don’t, though, you’ll just smudge your TV and then you’ll have to clean it. You’ve been warned.
Audio: How’s it sound?
When streaming, the Dolby Atmos light on my receiver lights up even though it’s not technically listed on the digital page for this film. I don’t know why they do it like that, but it is what it is. Suffice it to say that no matter which one you choose, the sound is robust. All of the actors’ voices are clearly and faithfully represented, though I did catch a bit more “action” on the Atmos mix. It’s a busy and dizzying soundstage that’s sure to please and don’t forget to turn it up, it’s got some pretty interesting spots.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Anatomy of a Scene: Creating A Strange World – Learn about Walt Disney Animation Studios’ creative process through a single, visually stunning scene as the filmmaking team puts all of their imagination – and more – on the screen.
- Strange Science – Jaboukie Young-White (voice of Ethan Clade) hosts an exploration of how Walt Disney Animation Studios artists were inspired by real science to create Strange World.
- Creature Feature – Journey into the world beneath Avalonia and meet some of the terrifying, slimy, gassy – and sometimes cute – creatures that inhabit this Strange World.
- The Hidden Secrets of Strange World – Uncover the references and characters from some of your favorite Walt Disney Animation Studios films hidden throughout the film, along with some fun facts and behind–the–scenes stories of how Strange World was made.
- Outtakes – Go behind the glass as we join the cast of Strange World inside the recording booth for some fun, flubs and outtakes.
- Deleted Scenes
- The Ballad of Jaeger Clade
- Lightning Lynx
- Funerals and Promises
- Ethan and Searcher
The Bottom Line
Strange World was a film I’d not heard about, but after viewing it was pleasantly surprised. It’s funny, witty and clever. In other words, it’s got something for everyone. If you’re tired of some of the other digitally-animated movies that seem to follow the same pattern, give this one a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.