Today, Netflix releases one of the year’s finest family adventures, “The Sea Beast,” which is a hilarious surprise. After watching the trailer for this animated adventure, it’s easy to see why it has been compared to Moana. It’s heartfelt, smart, and sneakily profound, possessing features that will be recognized by families all around the world. There’s a bit of “Moana,” a background of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” a thread of ” . The action sequences have been well thought out and planned, but the script will sneak up on you with themes that are worth discussing with the kids after it’s all over. “You may be a hero and yet be incorrect” isn’t exactly a brand-new topic in adventure fiction, but it feels more essential today’s world, and it’s great to see a fantasy film for families that doesn’t condescend to children. Children are the key characters in many of the most popular animated films, including “The Dark Crystal,” “Pocahontas” and “Frozen.” It’s wonderful to see that type of faith flourish again in a film that never forgets to be entertaining.
In his solo debut, Chris Williams (who co-directed “Big Hero 6” and “Moana”) deconstructs conventional seafaring adventure mythology with a script he co-wrote with Nell Benjamin. In the film’s second half, Williams and his crew stage a thrilling battle at sea between two monster-hunting ships and a huge beast after a brief prologue that introduces us to Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) as she flees her orphanage in search of more excitement. The first minute of the episode is spent establishing the backstory. It opens with a scene depicting a group of people swimming out to sea, before cutting to another ship in pursuit. The three-minute sequence that follows establishes the story’s central conflict: humans versus monsters in an epic battle between man and beast over who will rule the planet. Immediately.
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The main hero of this epic tale is Jacob Holland (Karl Urban), who was raised on a hunting ship called the Inevitable, captained by the sadistic Captain Crow (Jared Harris). The Ahab of the story is Crow, who represents the old guard hunter, someone who has been doing this for so long that he is driven by the desire to find and destroy the creature that took his eye. Maisie hides aboard their ship as they search for the sea monster, a red giant called the Bluster, and everything changes. Maisie and Jacob learn that everything they’ve been told about mankind’s battle with the beast was a lie through a series of action-packed events.
To be honest, “The Sea Beast” takes a bit too long to get going, and there’s a shorter 100-minute version of it within the film’s two hours. I tried to tighten it up in a few places, and I wish the planet-building was better. Some of the settings, however, seem under-designed; however, if all of the time and money went to the wonderfully created monsters, that’s to be expected.
Above all, I appreciated the script of “The Sea Beast,” which melds those obvious influences in a surprisingly innovative way. In this film, the narrative takes chances by being a monster-hunting movie that is ultimately anti-violence. It’s the type of thing great parents look for since it both entertains and stimulates conversation. And it’s a positive indication that Netflix might begin to develop into a more prominent voice in original animation as long as they’re willing to make.
Chris Williams(screenplay by)Nell Benjamin(screenplay by)Mattson Tomlin(story consultant)
Karl Urban(voice)Dan Stevens(voice)Jared Harris(voice)