There is something innocently joyous about Strange World. The bright purples and reds, the bizarre, spongy creatures and shiny, amorphous blobs all contribute to a happy viewing experience. The family story, the easily digestible morals and the shaggy three-legged dog called Legend add even more welcome levels of cuteness.
Director: Don Hall
Voice cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu
Story line: Three generations of explorers set off on the ultimate adventure to save their home
Run time: 102 minutes
Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is the most famous explorer in Avalonia and his life’s ambition is to find what lies beyond the mountains ringing the land. When he sets off to do just that, his son, Searcher, (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is more interested in botany than exploring places where no one has gone before, finds a plant giving off a strange energy.
Though Jaeger wants to forge ahead, the rest of the party feel that the plant may be the answer to progress in Avalonia. Father and son fall out with Searcher leading the rest of the party back while Jaeger goes on ahead.
25 years later, the energy plant, Pando is powering Avalonia. Searcher is a successful pando farmer. He is married to Meridian (Gabrielle Union), a pilot, and they have a 16-year-old son, Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White). Like all dads, Searcher also embarrasses Ethan in front of his friends and especially his crush, Diazo, (Jonathan Melo).
Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), the president of Avalonia, tells Searcher the pando is dying. She is putting together an expedition to go to the heart of the pando to find out what is wrong and wants Searcher to go with him.
Reluctantly Searcher agrees and even though he forbids Ethan from joining the expedition, Ethan, Legend and Meridian come along through a series of unfortunate events. After many adventures and mind-boggling revelations, Avalonia is saved, the family is together and all is well.
Inspired by the pulp magazines which director Don Hall read as a child as well as sci-fi and fantasy, including Journey to the Center of the Earth and King Kong, Strange World moves lightly on its multi-coloured, springy feet and equally smoothly on its variegated wings.
The voice work is all-round spectacular and gives that added push to the proceedings. Quietly inclusive, with its message of family and finding your place in the world, in trippy psychedelic colours with a lush music score, Strange World scores top marks in the entertaining stakes. If the story is a little thin, it can be forgiven as you lose yourself in that squishy carpet of red floaters.
Strange World is currently running in theatres