A hearty throwback paying tribute to Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Strange World uses the animation medium for what it’s designed for – unreal imagery, hyper creativity, and grand storytelling. Strange World carries Disney’s olden spark into this CG-dominant era, with a touch of self-awareness too.
Consider one bit character excited to merchandise a little alien critter, or another moment where a mother is mourned… until it’s revealed she’s still alive, as is the father. Strange World has fun playing with this pulp-centric world, acknowledging Disney’s usual methods while telling a sci-fi family fable that’s identifiable as the studio’s own.
At the center, the Clade’s, a family separated by ambition and self-determination, venturing into the unknown to save their isolated city. There, animosity flares from a teenage son and his dad, who in turn divests from his own dad, this while they share in sensationally bold sights in an underground world. There’s more than a little Journey to the Center of the Earth here, albeit with a final twist that does (slightly) make Strange World its own thing.
Strange World does both drama and action right, pacing itself generously to allow ample time for each. Out to save their electric-producing plant called Pando, the Clades lead toward an inevitable finale that solidifies their heroic qualities. Much as it’s about spectacle in this alien-like place, Strange World uses all of this imagery for a purposeful exploration of the family dynamic, showing the value in acceptance rather than distance.
It’s not wrong to consider the marketable value either. The Clades join with the jelly-like Splat, an expectedly comic sidekick who, in design, makes the most of this medium. Charming, funny, and visibly determined without any face to show as such, Splat makes the transition into this fantasy an easy one. There, the exotic, clever creatures make for a splendidly visual unknown realm but with enough baseline rules/logic to never dismiss the drama. Strange World is an absolute joy to watch.
Rather routine at this stage in UHD’s life, Strange World displays great enthusiasm for color saturation, especially when it comes to the green Pando plants. And, when paired with HDR, their glowing bulbs have quite the pop. The alien landscapes do much the same, looking luxurious on this format.
In terms of sharpness though, Strange World doesn’t have the same oomph. Possibly finished at 2K, the softness reflects a slightly vintage aesthetic, and animation isn’t soaring with precise texture. Lighting helps quite a bit though, adding the right level of pop to make Strange World live a bit.
So yes, the contrast and black levels make up for any other faults. And for clarity’s sake, this is by no means a lackluster affair so much as slightly (and very slightly) a lesser CG animated offering in 4K.
An odd offering from Disney gets the low-end correct – there’s significant bass from earthquakes and such delivered brilliantly. It’s deep, boomy, and satisfying even without the usual volume boost needed from Disney’s Atmos tracks. Surround channels work overtime to keep the action moving, while flying vehicles make full use of height channels. That’s not consistent, but when active, they’re unmissable.
However, the top-end feels pinched, failing to land high notes in the music or action. This sounds compressed, albeit not to any debilitating degree, and better than a streaming counterpart. When the sweeping score hits however, it does so softer than expected.
Disney standard, kid-focused featurettes fill a mundane list.
Classic vintage sci-fi factors into the the fun Disney romp Strange World.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 40 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: