Disney Animations Strange world – for which a new trailer was released on Wednesday – was created to capture the adventure of pulp novels inspired by stories such as Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth like King Kong.
But it’s ultimately a story about family, director Don Hall (an Oscar winner for Great Hero 6) explained during a press event. Co-directed and written by Qui Nguyen, Strange world follows a family of explorers who find themselves in an unknown land. Searcher Clade, voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal, is described as a brilliant family man – who as a teenager discovered a plant-based power source that changed the world. Searcher’s father, Jaeger, voiced by Dennis Quaid, disappeared decades ago on an expedition; and Searcher’s son Ethan, played by Jaboukie Young-White, is a happy 16-year-old who helps out on the family farm.
They live in the fictional Avalonia, with a palette of white and orange. “We wanted to create a kind of utopia – a warm, nostalgic feeling to emphasize that this is a beautiful culture that everyone enjoys,” production designer Justin Cram said in a statement.
In contrast, when the explorers enter the strange new world that feels alive, Hall said of the event that the filmmakers avoided earth tones and leaned in red and magenta — populating the world with curious plant life.
The expedition begins at the request of Callisto Mal, president of Avalonia, voiced by Lucy Liu, who is also on an adventure. So is Legend, a three-legged family dog; and Splat, a blue, tentacle-covered creature without a face. He doesn’t talk, so the animators had to come up with a way for Splat to communicate via pantomime (concept art below). Hall compared this approach to the creation of the carpet in question in aladdin.
Strange world opens Nov. 23. The trailer is below.