'Strange World' - Movie Review

Jake Gyllenhaal voices the main character, Searcher Clade. The opening shows us how his father Jaeger Clade is the world's biggest explorer who vanished on an expedition 25 years prior - during which Searcher also discovered "Pando," a plant which provides electricity and changed their society. Now Searcher is a farmer with a wife and son.

The movie gets big points from me for using Caravan Palace's "Lone Digger" in the soundtrack: I think that song is one of the ten best songs of the last decade. And the artwork - the visuals are stellar, just incredibly gorgeous. And it is, as many critics have said, "a Disney milestone in terms of representation" (Rotten Tomatoes summary). But there's a problem: the story sits right at the intersection of "heard-it-before" and "totally-predictable" with sides of "family is really important" and "work with the environment not against it."

After the opening credits we find out that Pando is in danger, and Searcher is forced to go exploring (the thing he doesn't want to do). Also predictable: his son stows away, his wife chases them down, and just as the wife and son would have left they hit a point of no return so he's out adventuring with his family. The plot continues on an equally predictable trajectory from there, always accompanied by stunning visuals.

It turns out that the director of this movie, Don Hall (well, he's the "director" but there's another person who's the "co-director" but Hall isn't a "co-director" which is weird) also "co-directed" "Big Hero 6" which I thought was brilliant. It also had great visuals (with a far better story), so let's say this was a failure of the writers (although to some extent Hall's in accepting the script ...).