'Strange World' Teaser Trailer Review: Harnessing Nostalgia for Something New

The constant whine is that mainstream studios can't come up with anything new, but instead barrage us with sequels, prequels, reboots, and remakes. Except that isn't exactly the truth, even if many of the motion pictures can fall into one of those categories. Some of the bigger hits this year were original movies like The Lost City, Dog, and Everywhere Everything All at Once. 

Some movies not based off already established characters, worlds, and series are not completely original. The Lost City leaned heavy on nostalgia and love for classic 1980s adventure Romancing the Stone with a romance writer being forced by a nefarious figure to trek through the jungle to find a precious treasure while gaining a new love interest along the way (describes both movies). 

But you put those two movies side by side, and there are a lot of differences, and The Lost City may rely on nostalgia to draw out a crowd, it very much becomes its own thing as it unfolds. One of the most successful ways to attract an audience is to trigger their nostalgia feels. A savvy marketing team can still pull that off even if the big feature is not based on anything established.

The Disney marketing team nails that with the upcoming sci-fi animated family adventure, Strange World.


As a sucker for pop culture artefacts, I absolutely adored that they started this out in black and white, they had a narrator hyping the big event, and phrases promising adventure splashed across the screen. The target audience is about 60 years removed from having ever seen this style of marketing, and even their parents would not have grown up with this exact type of trailer before. This channeling the adventure serials that inspired a young George Lucas to create and produce landmark movies like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark means a good portion of movie fans are away of this marketing. Many movie fans have seen this style trailer either through hunting through YouTube, or seeing it in historical documentaries, or mimicked during movies trying to capture the 1930s and 1940s. 

Sometimes you don't need to have lived through a time period to have actual nostalgia, or for a work to hit that sweet spot of happy emotions that comes from being flooded with fond memories. The memories aren't always our own, but rather created by the wistful rememberings of those we love or respect. Great stories are passed down from generation to generation, and so are some of our pop culture artefacts. 

Seeing this makes me think about those sweeping but campy adventure yarns like Flash Gordon or John Carter from over 80 years ago. Within seconds of this trailer, you get the feeling that this is about a group thrown into a journey of peril, danger, and excitement that also isn't afraid of being a bit quirky and bizarre like those old school stories of discovering the lost world of dinosaurs or battling giant radioactive ants.

This is an animated adventure not afraid to be a throwback to past sci-fi and fantasy adventures. To the point that the hero doesn't see himself as a hero at all, and is just a simple farmer who likely will grow and be forced to be a great adventurer. I love that he is a farmer, because that feels like a little nod to Lucas' greatest creation and inspiration of classic serials with Luke Skywalker starting his journey as a moisture farmer.

This trailer promises more than just a nostalgia kick. The animation is eye-popping with a bright and colourful world that is packed with imagination and wonder. There already are a few weird and intriguing creatures and terrains on this planet. It seems to stick to its promise of being a Strange World. This is the type of movie that I would have begged my dad take me when I was a kid, and Everett and Danika my little adventurers and fans of crazy creatures are going to be clamoring to tag along. 

Jake Gyllenhaal provides the voice of the lead, and is absolutely terrific in the little we hear his voice. He commands a great presence, but also gives off the vibe of the reluctant hero. Gyllenhaal has proven he will throw himself into a role and be willing take to some risks as an actor. Alan Tudyk looks to be a part of the cast, but based off his past voice work, he might just be providing the barks for the dog or the wind moving a pink plant.

I thought, I had initially read that the exploring family had the surname of Strange thus the title, but it appears it is Clades, but they are a legendary explorer family. It is likely leaning a bit on a possible Lost in Space meets Swiss Family Robinson type of vibe. Based on the Gyllenhaal character not as pumped for adventure, I assume he isn't part of the family and somehow stumbled his way into this adventure.

There is quite the creative team to get excited about as director Don Hall helmed other great animated adventures like Raya the Last Dragon and Big Hero 6 while co-directing Moana. He is teaming up again with screenwriter Qui Nguyen who wrote Raya the Last Dragon and was a creative leader for Encanto (whatever that means, but probably something to do with creativity). Both have great experience with world-building with fascinating characters while balancing big action and adventure with some fun comedy and deeper character moments. They have created some of my favourite adventures in the last decade, and everything points to this being another.

This trailer doesn't really spoil anything. It is set on a crazy planet. There is a family of explorers that must overcome the tough terrain. There is a farmer who is very reluctant. And there is lots of cool-looking creatures. I'm sold. I don't need to know much more. I'm sure I'll end up getting that much more, but I may try to avoid the rest of the trailers now that this has rocketed to the top of my most anticipated for the fall movie season.