Our George Kozera had the pleasure of attending Walt Disney Studios Canada’s 2022 Holiday Preview, highlighting some of the Studio’s exciting upcoming theatrical and theatrical releases. Here’s a little sneak peek what we can expect after some first looks were offered at the event.
After a two-year absence due to COVID restrictions, it was pure joy to attend the Walt Disney Studios Canada press event for a light breakfast, previews of 2023 releases and a screening of STRANGE WORLD. Disney will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2023 and from what we saw, it will be a banner year for the studio and its audience, either theatrically or streaming on Disney+. Some of the preview highlights had us salivating in anticipation.
The Cinematography in the upcoming live action version of THE LITTLE MERMAID is astonishing and it will be spectacular viewing on the big screen. The same can be said for the Animated Feature ELEMENTAL, its vibrancy and colour palette is hypnotic. ANT MAN & THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA appears darker in tone and execution from the previous two movies, but any film with Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonathan Majors, Evangeline Lilly and Bill Murray will have me first in line! Snippets of season three of THE MANDALORIAN has inspired me to binge-watch the first two seasons and WILLOW looks very interesting. But what really yanked my crank was SECRET INVASION, the Marvel mini-series starring Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn and award-winning magnet, Olivia Colman.
STRANGE WORLD is Disney’s first foray into the Animated Science-Fiction genre and it is a rollicking success. Jaeger Clade and his young son Searcher go on an expedition to cross the mountains to see what’s on the other side. Searcher comes across a mysterious plant, stays behind to extradite and harvest it back home and Jaeger continues on the journey solo. Fast-forward 25 years…Searcher is now the town’s most successful farmer as this plant has miraculous components and alongside his wife Meridian, his 16-year-old son Ethan and their three-legged dog, their life is blissful. Until they are told by Callisto that the roots source of this plant is being ambushed and they all need to explore the treacherous landscapes of Avalonia inhabited by surreal lifeforms to save it.
There is a myriad of reasons why I fell in love with STRANGE WORLD. The voice work from Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu and, especially, Jaboukie Young-White as Ethan is exceptional. The animated world of Avalonia is visually intoxicating and I genuinely appreciated that innumerable creatures there were not given annoyingly cute human characteristics. They don’t periodically break into song; they enhance the story and illicit smiles or dreaded anticipation. However, first and foremost, with a standing ovation and bouquets of flowers thrown onto the stage, Disney tackles diversity with gusto, class and bravado. From a “blink and you might miss it” scene of a background character in a wheelchair, to the fact that Searcher and Meridian are a biracial married couple, impressed me to the hilt. Most importantly, taking into account the controversy Disney experienced when it was alleged that one of the characters in its monster hit FROZEN may have been gay, Ethan has a schoolboy crush and it is a another boy. Kudos to Disney for not sensationalizing this and giving space to tell a story that can only be a learning opportunity to some young audience members struggling internally.
Excluding Animated Features from Pixar, STRANGE WORLD is my favourite Disney movie since BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Whereas I tend to abhor cinematic sequels, I would relish another opportunity to spend more time with the Clade family.
Walt Disney Studios Canada release STRANGE WORLD November 23, 2022.
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