Adventure, New Discoveries, and Family Dynamics
Are you the type of person that longs for adventure? Or are you content doing the same thing over and over again everyday? Do you want to explore new worlds or would you rather discover something you can study that can help your society? Are you close with your family? Do you always see eye to eye with them? If any of these questions are intriguing, then Walt Disney Studios’ newest film STRANGE WORLD is for you!
About STRANGE WORLD
STRANGE WORLD introduces a legendary family of explorers, the Clades, as they attempt to navigate an uncharted, treacherous land alongside a motley crew that includes a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog, and a slew of ravenous creatures. The voice cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal as Searcher Clade, a family man who finds himself out of his element on an unpredictable mission; Dennis Quaid as Searcher’s larger-than-life explorer father, Jaeger; Jaboukie Young-White as Searcher’s 16-year-old son, Ethan, who longs for adventure; Gabrielle Union as Meridian Clade, an accomplished pilot and Searcher’s partner in all things; and Lucy Liu as Callisto Mal, Avalonia’s fearless leader who spearheads the exploration into the strange world. The film is helmed by Don Hall (Oscar®-winning “Big Hero 6,” “Raya and the Last Dragon”) and co-director/writer Qui Nguyen (co-writer “Raya and the Last Dragon”), and produced by Roy Conli (Oscar®-winning “Big Hero 6,” “Tangled”).
Meet The Characters
The character lineup in “Strange World” includes three generations of Clades and two strong women who all come together for an epic journey.
Searcher Clade – Voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal
SEARCHER CLADE (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a treasured member of the Avalonia community having discovered a revolutionary plant-based power source called pando. These days, he arms the plant, providing energy to the entire community. Above all though, Searcher is a family man. He loves a spontaneous middle-of-the-kitchen dance with his wife, Meridian, and he vowed long ago that he would do anything for his son, Ethan. Searcher has worked hard to create a solid and secure life for his family, so when he finds himself out of his element on an unpredictable mission, his cool confidence escapes him.
Jaegar Clade- Voiced by Dennis Quaid
JAEGER CLADE(Dennis Quaid) is Searcher’s larger-than-life explorer father. He has long dreamed of venturing beyond the mountain ranges that surround Avalonia. His dream became an obsession he never lost sight of—even when a major misstep landed him in a strange world far from his family. The one-and-only Jaeger just wants to leave a legacy.
Ethan Clade – Voiced By Jaboukie Young-white
ETHAN CLADE (Jaboukie Young-White) is a typical teenager who rolls his eyes when his parents kiss, lights up when his friends visit, and gets completely tongue-tied when his crush, Diazo, is around. The 16-year-old longs for the kind of adventure that echoes that of the grandfather he’s never met, so when his dad heads off on a crucial mission aboard the airship Venture—Ethan stows away.
Meridian Clade- Voiced by Gabrielle Union
MERIDIAN CLADE (Gabrielle Union) is an accomplished pilot who adores her husband and son. Strong, observant, and just plain cool, Meridian is an unexpected-but-invaluable addition to the Clade family expedition, having chased down the Venture after realizing that Ethan sneaked aboard. Says head of story David G. Derrick Jr., “Meridian is a crop duster pilot who was once a daredevil. Take a look at her jacket—she was once a member of the Lightning Lynx, an aerobatic stunt show. Meridian is critical to the story—she not only becomes the pilot of the Venture, but she helps these three generations of men come together and heal.”
Callisto Mal-Voiced By Lucy Liu
CALLISTO MAL (Lucy Liu), president of Avalonia, has a long history with the Clade family. Once a member of Jaeger’s expedition team, Callisto ultimately followed a different path. She’s determined to solve the mystery of what is plaguing pando, becoming the driving force behind the mission to the strange world. “I think she’s a good leader,” says head of story Lissa Treiman. “She has the confidence to make decisions, but she’s thoughtful and able to see things from a human perspective.” Filmmakers aimed to create a character who was equally as brave and physically capable as Jaeger, but less self-absorbed. “She’s almost the opposite of Jaeger,” says co-director/writer Qui Nguyen. “She’s not about her own legacy or legend. She’s there for the people of Avalonia.”
Legend the dog
LEGEND (dog) is the Clades’ three-legged, perpetually happy family dog who unknowingly loves charging toward danger. When Ethan sneakily signs on for the mission to the strange world, his loyal companion remains by his side, eager as ever to please his human. However, his presence—and instinct to naively and energetically greet every stranger—may do more harm than good. Hall credits Burny Mattinson, a storyboard artist who’s been at Disney Animation since 1953, with the idea for Legend. “He kept telling me the movie needed a dog,” says Hall. “Dogs just scream family, and ‘Strange World’ is about family. I decided to name the dog Legend because that’s what I call Burny.” Mattinson became an official Disney Legend in 2008, which earned him the esteemed nickname.
Splat the Blue Blob
SPLAT (Blue Blob) is a blue blobby creature from the strange world who befriends Ethan and guides him and the rest of the Clades through the mysterious underground land. With an overabundance of personality but a lack of facial features, Splat challenged filmmakers in creating an emotive character. “It’s a really complicated character with a lot of limbs and also pure imagination because you just can’t shoot reference for something like that,” says head of animation Amy Smeed. “There’s a lot in the timing and posing of the character that sells the emotion—you almost think of it like a puppet.
STRANGE WORLD and the representation of these characters
There are so many different characters of all shapes, sizes, and color in STRANGE WORLD and the filmmakers worked really hard to make sure everyone was seen in this movie. The world is so expansive and big that they wanted each part of the world to feel different in color.
The skin tones of these characters are wide-ranging. Brian Leach, director of cinematography-lighting, and his team worked to ensure each character’s skin tone came across as intended. “A lot of effort was put into appropriately representing skin tones for ‘Strange World,’” he says. “I would say much of the credit for this research goes to our amazing character look team, working closely with Mason Khoo, our character lighting lead. In lighting we took care to make sure we didn’t over-light darker skinned characters, and also made sure the differences in the specularity of different skin tones didn’t get washed out or watered down.”
The Music Of STRANGE WORLD
When filmmakers set out to make STRANGE WORLD, they sought a composer who could create an entirely new musical palette that would speak to the emotional connection between characters and the extraordinary nature of the strange world. Enter Henry Jackman. “We think of Henry as part of our storytelling team,” says producer Roy Conli. “I am always impressed with Henry’s commitment to story first. He fully understands and supports the emotional structure of each scene and ultimately the film. His music enhances every element of the story. The score Henry has written for ‘Strange World’ is as beautiful, sweeping and epic as the film itself.”
The score is primarily symphonic, but Jackman weaves in some non-symphonic musical elements when audiences first meet the Clades. Says Jackman, “at the very beginning of the film, there’s a certain color to Avalonia, which has non-symphonic elements, like dulcimers and guitars, and a little bit of electronics. Not much, but it depicts this half-agricultural, half-technological world.” To add to the mystique, Jackman included choir vocals—with a twist. “We used a fantastic, acoustic choir, and I wanted to extend it slightly and augment it,” says Jackman. “So, it’s half real choir and half choral sound that could not be made by humans. Rather than being completely synth, it’s a bit more like augmented reality.
In “Strange World,” the Clades explore their bizarre surroundings as well as their complex relationships, and Jackman felt the music should support but not overwhelm the emotion. “Some of these conversations are very real, and quite awkward, and emotionally difficult,” says Jackman. “So, I took a realistic approach where I was not so invasive musically. But by the time you get to the third act, where some of these tensions are boiling over and the stakes are higher, then you can really double down and it becomes more of a grand adagio.”
STRANGE WORLD REVIEW
STRANGE WORLD is a surprising film, primarily because the trailers and promos do not do this movie justice. The trailers promote an exciting adventure, but the heart of this film is about being true to yourself and your family.
STRANGE WORLD represents a huge milestone in Disney Animation for the LGBTQ+ community in particular. The animators and storytellers definitely went the extra mile to make sure this movie was diverse and inclusive. I absolutely loved that one of the main characters identifies as gay but the movie never has to explicitly say it. We also didn’t get the cliché storyline of a gay teen coming out to his family and any drama that ensues. Instead, when the Clades learn that Ethan has a crush on another boy, they accept it as normal and he can openly discuss his crushes with them. The film takes the same attitude toward Ethan’s parents, who are a bi-racial couple depicted as completely normal, as it should be. This movie even had a person in a wheelchair and a three-legged dog!!! I was so happy as I believe this is the first Disney movie to really dig deep and showcase things that are not normally depicted without hardship.
STRANGE WORLD is very fun and is definitely worth a watch. It definitely gives me Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth vibes. It also reminded me a lot of what AVATAR might be like if it were an animated movie instead of a CGI live-action film. The best part about the film is its message and I definitely recommend seeing it at least once.
Some Fun Stills from the Movie
STRANGE WORLD opens in U.S. theaters on November 23, 2022. Will you see it in the theater? What did you think? Please let us know on Facebook or Instagram, and join our Facebook Group for family-friendly camaraderie.