Dennis Quaid, Lucy Liu, Gabrielle Union and Jaboukie Young-White have joined the key voice cast of “Strange World,” the upcoming adventure film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios that is scheduled for released on Nov. 23. They join Jake Gyllenhaal, who was announced last week.
Directed by “Big Hero 6” helmer Don Hall, rolling off the success of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and written and co-directed by Qui Nguyen, who co-wrote “Raya,” “Strange World” follows three generations of the Clade family, legendary explorers, who arrive at a dazzling land full of mysterious phenomena – shoals of flying fish, walking rock columns, and octopus-looking monsters, a recent trailer suggests.
Narrated in a retro visual style of ‘50s sci-fi B movies, “Strange World” will have granddad Jaeger Clade voiced by Quaid. Young-White voices the grandson, Ethan. Union voices Meridian, who is married to son Searcher, played by Gyllenhaal. Liu is Callisto Mal, head of Avalonia, the magical setting of the film.
Inspired by the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne, the throwback tale will welcome trusty companions and bizarre new creations, featuring non-speaking characters like the family’s three-legged dog, Legend, and the gelatinous blue blob Splat, a strange critter from a strange new world.
“He might just become your favorite character,” producer Roy Conli said in Annecy.
The full voice cast was announced at a Walt Disney Animation Studios showcase at France’s Annecy Animation Festival, which began with the award of an honorary Annecy Cristal to Jennifer Lee, WDAS chief creature officer best known as writer-director of “Frozen,” which won her an Academy Award, and “Frozen II.”
Lee also produced “Encanto” as well as “Raya and the Last Dragon” and executive produced the upcoming Disney Plus projects “Baymax” and “Zootopia +.”
Calling animation “part of my memories, my escape, my friend, my hope,” Lee described animation as “imagination in its most complex and elaborate form,” heralding “the true power of collaboration!”
Walt Disney screened three sequences from “Strange World.” In the first, Ethan flirts with heartthrob Diazo while friends from school look on, teasing in a friendly and warm-hearted way. Much to Ethan’s chagrin, his dad Searcher soon joins in, embarrassing his son with an overeager show of acceptance.
The second sequence unveiled at Annecy was an action scene. As the whole family explores a cavern from the inside of a lime green aircraft, they are soon attacked by flying fuschia creatures that look like origami stingrays.
The attack ends with the family separated, Searcher and his dog falling off the aircraft and landing in a strange new world, while Ethan and mom steer the ship to safety.
In sequence three, Searcher and the dog explore their new surroundings, the phosphorescent landscape looking like a coral refer painted bright pink.
After meeting Splat, they must fend off a Cthulhu-looking beast, and are finally rescued by a bearded old hunter. When the veteran of this tricky terrain finally takes off his hood, his appearance comes as a shock. “Dad?!!” Searcher exclaims.
Walt Disney also dropped unannounced episodes of both “Zootopia +” and “Baymax.”
In “Baymax,” which has a sitcom feel and elicited lots of laughs from the Annecy audience, Baymax, the robot from “Big Hero 6” offers to run a cafe after its owner Cassie sprains her ankle.
“You can’t download what it took me years to learn,” Cassie tells the robot, but Cassie has to learn to let go and trust others.
A six-episode series,“Zootopia +” weaves in and out of the original film, with each installment using a unique style to follow a different character. One episode plays as a dance talent competition, another as a reality show, and so on. The episode shown at Annecy, “The Godfather of the Bride,” offered an origin story for the “Zootopia” bit character Mr Big, done in the style of Coppola’s family saga.