The Sea Beast: Well worth SEA-ing...you get it.
The genre of animated films has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Dating all the way back to 1906, the earliest animated films were simple shorts of changing facial expressions. I don’t think those artists could've ever imagined what the art form would look like today. I somehow always get struck by how beautifully rendered animated films look now, and that has not been more true than with Netflix’s The Sea Beast. While the movie doesn’t break new ground in terms of storytelling, its visual appeal, characters and overall heart make it a delightful watch.
Not the newest story ever told…
The Sea Beast is set in a world where (you guessed it) there is a war raging between humans and sea monsters. We meet Maisie Brumble, an orphan obsessed with hunters- the mythic heroes who hunt and kill sea monsters. She’s particularly enamored with the ship The Inevitable, its Captain, Augustus Crow and its star hunter, Jacob Holland. They’re after the "Red Bluster," the biggest sea monster of all. All their worlds combine and the plot kicks into gear. If this sounds familiar to you, that would be because it picks its plot beats from several other similar monster hunting movies.
While it may not be all that new in terms of plot, this movie does have several key things that make it an enjoyable ride of a movie, first being the cast of characters. Maisie, Crow and Jacob are all wonderfully voiced and present the story in a fun and at times emotional way. We’re introduced to a bevy of side characters and monster hunters, as well as a King and Queen who truly capture that hoity-toity stuffiness of royalty. My favorite character is first mate Sarah Sharpe. Her deadpan animation and terrific voice acting by Marianne Jean-Baptiste made her a standout and I would very much like a spin-off about her. (A badass female character who is proficient with weapons? Who’s surprised she’s my favorite?)
..but it’s pretty, and deep! (Pun intended)
The animation style in this movie is breathtakingly detailed. The textures that they were able to achieve are fantastic, with a specific shout out needing to go to the animators responsible for all of the water in this film. Another thing that I loved about the animation and character design is how wonderfully diverse the characters are. They all feel unique and feel representative of the world we actually live in, which is always a breath of fresh air when it is accurately showcased.
The movie deals with the complex idea of the fallout of generations of war. It doesn’t shy away from how devastating and horrifying war can be. While the tone of the film is primarily family friendly, it never let you forget that there were real stakes to these situations. It adds just enough levity to make this world feel more authentic. The addition of the ADORABLE baby sea monster Blue is another highlight, and I would very much like a Squishmallow version of them ASAP.
Overall this movie is a real joy from start to finish, and I can definitely see why it’s Oscar nominated. With excellent animation and terrific voice acting, they take a story that’s frankly been told already, and make it feel fresh and engaging. It delivers some pretty heavy themes in a way that is easily accessible for all ages, while also not talking down to their audience. This is a movie I’ll be watching more than once, if for no other reason than to get the dimensions right for my own Blue plush toy, that I GUESS I’ll have to make myself.