Getting strong ”Atlantis“ vibes, which is never a bad thing
Ready to journey to a “Strange World?”
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 61st full-length animated feature has a name, a creative team and a release date. “Strange World” is described by the studio as an “original action-adventure journeys deep into an uncharted and treacherous land where fantastical creatures await the legendary Clades, a family of explorers whose differences threaten to topple their latest—and by far— most crucial mission.”
The creative team behind “Strange World” is led by director Don Hall, who has become a low-key Disney legend in the past couple of decades. Hall started with the company in the waning days of the so-called Disney Renaissance, writing on 1999’s underrated “Tarzan” and working as a story artist on projects like “Brother Bear” and “Home on the Range” (a notoriously difficult project that killed hand-drawn animated features for a while).
In 2007, Hall co-wrote “Meet the Robinsons,” before directing 2011’s charming “Winnie the Pooh” (now the company’s final hand-drawn feature) and 2014’s “Big Hero 6” (both with Chris Williams). As part of Disney Animation’s centralized story trust, Hall helped regain the ground lost following the Disney Renaissance.
In 2016, Hall and Williams helped get “Moana” across the finish line as co-directors working underneath Disney legends John Musker and Ron Clements and earlier this year he jumped on and directed (with Carlos López Estrada) “Raya and the Last Dragon,” after story problems forced the original filmmaking team off the project. But now Hall is back, with a project all his own. Hall will be joined by Qui Nguyen, who will co-direct and write the project and “Tangled” producer Roy Conli, who will produce. (This will be Conli’s first animated feature since “Big Hero 6.”)
According to the official statement, “Strange World” is very much inspired by the kind of yellowed paperback adventure, sci-fi and fantasy stories of pulp fiction. “I loved reading the old issues of pulps growing up,” Hall said in the release. “They were big adventures in which a group of explorers might discover a hidden world or ancient creatures. They’ve been a huge inspiration for ‘Strange World.’”
It sounds, at least initially, like the closest DNA “Strange World” shares is with 2001’s “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” which was directed by the “Beauty and the Beast” team of Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale and hoped to encapsulate the spirit of adventure and monster-filled hijinks of a classic Ray Harryhausen romp. It looked to push the envelope of what a Disney animated movie could be. (The crew wore T-shirts that said “Fewer songs, more explosions.”) While creative interreference and budget cuts left the final product somewhat compromised, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” is charming and fun and remains a cult classic.
“Strange World” is scheduled to hit theaters on November 23, 2022.
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