Living in a land down under

- James White

RELEASED OUT NOW! PG | 102 minutes

Director Don Hall

Cast Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid,

Gabrielle Union, Jaboukie Young-white

Disney hasn’t tended to dip into the straightfo­rward adventure genre much since the one-two flame-out of Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet. So it’s encouragin­g that the company chose to take a gamble on Strange World, the latest from Raya And The Last Dragon collaborat­ors Don Hall and Qui Nguyen. Jake Gyllenhaal voices Searcher Clade, who grew up excited to follow in the adventurou­s footsteps of his explorer father Jaeger (Dennis Quaid). But a key father-son bonding trip ends in bitterness when Searcher discovers energy-giving plants that push the technologi­cal advancemen­t of the community of Avalonia.

Jaeger belittles the breakthrou­gh, choosing to leave and keep looking for what lies beyond the mountains that ring their home. Searcher commits to being a farmer – at least until a threat to the plants prompts him to take up dad’s mantle and quest for a fix.

Though its storytelli­ng is driven by those trope-heavy daddy issues, Strange World’s thrills are more visual, as Searcher discovers a subterrane­an place filled with weird creatures. The designs are impressive and have a reason to exist in the narrative. Even creatures that were clearly created to sell more toys have a point. Fans of Jules Verne, HG Wells and Terry Pratchett, meanwhile, will happily sink into the distinctly steampunk vibe.

Some refreshing­ly progressiv­e character work – Searcher’s son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-white) is gay, which goes without comment or issue – means this is a step ahead of even other recent Disney releases, and while the basic concept might not be the most original, the pulpy vibe boosts the entertainm­ent value higher than it might otherwise be.

This is Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid’s second time as cinematic father and son following The Day After Tomorrow.

This is a step ahead of even other recent Disney releases

 ?? ?? Whatever you just said, it didn’t go down well.
Whatever you just said, it didn’t go down well.

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