Strange world is currently in theaters and has received mixed reviews. Some love it, and others think it’s the same old Disney, but it really proves that there’s still a market for a traditional family fantasy adventure film. In fact, some people might want to watch similar movies right after Strange world.
Thankfully, this is a genre full of classics, and while not all of them are Oscar nominees, that doesn’t really detract from their intrinsic value as heartwarming works of art. No matter how tough it gets, these movies never fail to bring out a smile.
10/10 Strange World – Ongoing
The film only recently hit theaters, so ratings for it are still mixed. With less than a thousand votes at release, it’s not exactly consistent. Still, the consensus so far has been mostly positive, with many praising the film’s visuals and surprisingly unorthodox soundtrack featuring the likes of Caravan Palace.
The story follows the Clades, a legendarily long line of explorers who embark on a journey to the mysterious planet Avalonia, filled with fierce life forms. Strange world taking notes from thick adventure novels like Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, a surprising rarity these days.
9/10 The journey to the center of the earth – 5.8
Journey to the center of the earth, despite sharing a title with the Jules Verne classic, isn’t actually a straightforward adaptation. In fact, the book itself exists in-universe as a guide to the mythical center of the Earth, and at the center of this film is geology professor Trevor Anderson and his nephew Sean.
From there, the plot structure ends up resembling the classic novel, as they inevitably find themselves exploring the beautiful but dangerous world that lies at the center of the Earth. 2008 can be considered the last time fans got to see Brendan Fraser’s Moomin style adventure film phase, and since then he’s gone through a bit of an acting renaissance.
8/10 Dora and the Lost City of Gold – 6.1
Dora the Explorer is one of the longest-running children’s shows of all time, and no one could have expected how absurd and funny the movie would turn out to be. Dora and the Lost City of Gold follows a very troubled Dora as she sets out to rescue her kidnapped parents from a group of treasure-hunting mercenaries.
This movie is oddly dark, not in an edgy way, but more in how it deconstructs the very essence of Dora the Explorer. Her odd mannerisms, random pauses to ask obvious questions, and general weirdness are seen for what they are by other characters. Still, the film manages to retain the healthy spirit of exploration in its source material.
7/10 The Mitchells vs The Machines – 7.6
Despite coming out in the middle of a global pandemic, The Mitchells vs The Machines managed to create massive buzz through streaming and its limited theatrical release. It follows the titular Mitchells, a dysfunctional family whose road trip is rudely interrupted by the robot apocalypse.
Despite the exaggerated premise, The Mitchells vs The Machines is an incredibly relatable and heartfelt story, showcasing the real and uncomfortable struggles that families go through, especially in the internet age. The literal demonization of technology is more satirical than it is the actual message of the film.
6/10 Tangled – 7.7
Tangled is surprisingly Disney’s first feature film about the tale of Rapunzel. Rapunzel was the daughter of a beloved king and queen, kidnapped by an evil witch for her personal youth restoration thanks to the child’s magical healing hair. She has spent the better part of 18 years completely protected.
The thief Flynn gives her the opportunity to escape from her “home” and find her real parents. Tangled is one of Disney’s funniest offerings in recent years, carried by the chemistry between its two leads. It also happens to have one of the most romantic Disney songs this side of “A Whole New World,” the heartwarming “I See The Light.”
5/10 The Little Prince – 7.7
The little prince is an adaptation of the novel of the same name, albeit in an unorthodox way. The framing device of a man known as The Aviator is present, and he is the narrator of the original story. For the unfamiliar, The little prince follows the life of a mysterious boy living on an asteroid as he travels from planet to planet to find the meaning of life.
It’s a surprisingly philosophical and introspective book, so much so that even adults can find genuinely moving content in the film as well. In fact, fans of the book should also watch this movie, as its entire third act is essentially a sequel to the book’s finale.
4/10 How to Train Your Dragon 2 – 7.8
After the upbeat ending of How to train your dragon, its sequel seems to start on the same footing. Hiccup has successfully integrated dragons into the Vikings’ daily lives and has become a worthy chieftain thanks to his peacekeeping ways. However, a violent warlord named Drago Bludvist threatens to destroy this way of life.
Its predecessors were already praised for showing consequences in a surprisingly mature and realistic way, and here it is probably the darkest in the series. Yet there is always an underlying theme of hope and kindness that prevails, even if it must compete against the sharp edge of violence.
3/10 The song of the sea – 8.0
The second in Cartoon Saloon’s Irish folklore trilogy, The song of the sea follows the story of Ben, who resents his younger sister, Saoirse, for the loss of their mother. One night, on Halloween, Ben discovers that Saoirse is a selkie, a mythical creature that can turn into a seal when near water.
What follows is another visually stunning affair from Cartoon Saloon, as the story takes the siblings on an adventure to the beautiful world that lies beneath the sea. Throughout, a heartbreaking story about accepting loss is told, something that many young people can unfortunately relate to.
2/10 Coco – 8.4
Miguel Rivera is the black sheep of his family, because instead of wanting to be a cobbler like the others, he dreams of becoming a musician. On the Day of the Dead, while doing chores, he inexplicably finds himself entering the famous city of the dead to find a secretly famous relative of his.
Coco was by far one of Disney’s biggest hits in recent years, especially in its real-life setting, Mexico. The respect given to its culture and the creative vision on screen was undeniable, with a strong backbone of emotional family drama.
1/10 Spirited Away – 8.6
Widely considered the most successful of Studio Ghibli’s impressive library, the Oscar-winning Spirited Away came after Hayao Miyazaki’s first (of many) “retirements”. The story follows Chihiro, a crazy young girl who suddenly finds herself stranded in the spirit world’s bathhouse after wandering away from her parents.
Shockingly, her parents had been turned into pigs, and she searches for a way to make her parents human again, meeting a diverse list of alien spirits along the way. Spirited Away is an experience that’s incredibly difficult to summarize, as so many of its best moments are done without a single word being spoken.
NEXT: The Top 10 Spirits and Creatures in Spirited Away