The Sea Beast Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A swashbuckling adventure on water that includes the fighting of monsters, not all of whom are sea-diving beasts. Williams created a visually stunning tale!
Genre: Adventure / Animation
Director: Chris Williams
Cast: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jared Harris, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Xana Tang, Ian Mercer, Shannon Chan-Kent, Doon Mackichan & Jim Carter.
Run Time: 119 min.
US Release: 24 June 2022 (limited) / 08 July 2022 (Netflix)
UK Release: 24 June 2022 (limited) / 08 July 2022 (Netflix)
German Release: 08 July 2022 (Netflix)
I do love some good animation, though this was the first proper western animated movie I’ve seen this year… incredible! I still didn’t manage to see Lightyear, but I am planning to do so this weekend. However, I had already downloaded this one on my phone for another disappointing entertainment during my flight across Europe. Even if Netflix’s motto as of late is quantity over quality, this one managed to surprise me! So I am happy to report that this sailor’s tale is worth a watch!
When a young, orphaned girl sneaks aboard a legendary sea monster hunter's ship, they embark on an epic journey into uncharted waters to search for the elusive Red Bluster- and make history along the way.
The Sea Beast tells the story of mythical misunderstood creatures being hunted by seafaring people. If this sounds familiar, it is because we have seen it already once, just done better! How to Train Your Dragon is basically the blueprint to this Netflix-produced animation tale, with the emotional component written better at DreamWorks studios. Williams’ directed feature doesn’t always know who it is pitching this sea tale to; if it is adults or children. Then there is the rather anticlimactic ending.
Nevertheless, this is still a relatively competent elaborated story, with well-developed characters whose arcs pack an emotional punch. Based on various sailor’s yarns, writer Nell Benjamin, together with the director, added a message of morality, as well as history of war, genesis and greed. All of it is wrapped up in a fantastic, digestible adventure tale that is mostly understandable for young children, even if not always appropriate.
The dialogue is mostly on par with the plot, avoiding contemporary terminology, although not always child-friendly. While I admire that attention to detail, I also believe that the dialogues could have been handled a little bit better since specific issues discussed are oversimplified. In contrast, others use more mature details and crass language.
Williams’ computer-generated adventure focuses heavily on character development and growth, so it is nice to see that a lot of work has gone into fine-tuning the different personas to make them believable plus relatable. Not a lot of animation studios do that anymore these days!
Jacob Holland, who Karl Urban voices, is designed after early cinematic swashbuckler heroes, in looks as well as in movement. While looking grander than life in stature, it is Urban's acting that gives the character humanity and compassion, especially during moments shared with Captain Crow, who is something like a father figure to Urban’s character. Crow found Jacob as a young boy out on the sea, raising him into the adventurer he is on screen.
Zaris-Angel Hator did lend her voice to Maisie, the young orphan who sneaks upon Captain Crow’s ship, “The Inevitable”, to become a monster hunter herself. Maisie is also the most annoying while being a sweet persona. Hator’s high-pitched voice, in combination with the child's know-it-all smug attitude, can alienate her from viewers.
Captain James Crow, modelled after Captain Ahab, is played by Jarred Harris. Crow is a deeply conflicted character; while clinging to his humanity by caring for Jacob, his deep hatred and grudge towards the Red Bluster always resurface, turning him into a metaphorical monster. Harris sells the character's motivation, driven through rage, well.
The transition from scene to scene is one of the most creative work I have seen. The visual execution is immaculate and on par with Disney or Pixar. The colour palette is strong, vibrant, and lively, bringing a crystal clear picture to the screen.
The Star of the flick, however, is the computer animation! Be it the characters or the surrounding world, it all looks jaw-droppingly beautiful! Especially the motion of the ocean, with the large ships sailing through and the underwater scenes, simply look gorgeous. The attention to detail that is given to the characters is remarkable! Be it the wet hair hairs or damage to the clothing; one can see every single feature. The sea creatures were modelled after century-old drawings of tentacled beasts attacking sailors. The only issue I had was with the design of the Red Bluster, reminding me too much of “Toothless”.
The soundtrack adds to the sea-fairing, piracy feeling. Mark Mancina composed a fun and exciting soundtrack inspired by similar films of the early cinematic age. The sea shanty, “Captain Crow”, was an original song Mancina came up with to better depict the character.
Verdict: Everything considered, this is a fun little animated picture with likeable characters. Chris Williams expands on what he learned while working at Disney, putting his talent on display. Does it copy heavily from Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon franchise? Sadly so, but it is competently created, introducing some original ideas. The dialogue is sometimes a little clunky - too childish for adults and too adult for children, as if the studio weren’t sure who to pitch this movie to. However, the voice acting is superb, with Karl Urban giving a fantastic rendition of his character Jacob! Masie can sometimes be too much of a “know-it-all”, but she is generally sweet, meaning well. Cinematographically, this is one of the best-animated features I have seen, great angles, creative camera work, and smoothly moving from scene to scene. The animation is very detailed, containing eye-popping colours! It is a sweet, fun watch. The Sea Beast gets a 7.0 out of 10.
So what did you think of The Sea Beast? Have you seen it yet? Thank you for reading!