The Sea Beast is an epic swashbuckling adventure that manages to push the boundaries of animation to where it meets live-action.
Nothing against Walt Disney Animation Studios but one could never see Chris Williams making this at Disney. It’s very different from any animated film I’ve seen before. If anything, it’s one of those films that gives The Adventures of Tintin a run for its money in a world where animation runs very close to meeting live-action. I can definitely imagine a film like this in live-action but no studio would take it on because Hollywood is heading in a direction where it’s harder to sell films that do not have previous IP. The thing about Netflix Animation–prior to the layoffs–is that they are taking risks other studios probably wouldn’t take. When one looks at the other studios, they all have their own brands for animation. This is where it fits in fine with what Netflix has to offer although it’s a film that should have had a longer theatrical run.
The surrogate son of Captain Crow (Jared Harris), Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) is one of most beloved sea monster hunters of his era. Holland will risk his life if it means providing the safety of his people. With the Red Bluster on the loose, the King (Jim Carter) and Queen (Doon Mackichan) want the Inevitable to chase it down. However, Holland is in for a surprise when he discovers Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator) on his ship. She’s an aspiring sea monster hunter in her own right. They find themselves as surprising allies as they go on an adventure beyond any sea map. What they find here is more than meets the eye. Along the way, they start to rethink their own place in the cycle of aggression and violence.
I have to give a lot of credit to the film’s art team in bringing this beauty to life. The production goes for authenticity in every aspect, be it ships, costumes, and the 17th century technology. While there’s a fantastical aspect of the film, The Sea Beast is grounds itself in realism. Ultimately, this film is about family at the end of the day. You have something for everyone–animation, action, adventure. The scale of the film is what takes it to a place we’ve never seen in animation. Mark Mancina’s score is absolutely beautiful. His score is fun, epic, and also works outside of the film. Not only is the film an epic swashbuckling adventure but is a bonafide Oscar contender. We’ll almost certainly never see the likes of it again.
The Sea Beast is an epic swashbuckling adventure but this animated film is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
DIRECTOR: Chris Williams
SCREENWRITERS: Chris Williams and Nell Benjamin
CAST: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jared Harris, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dan Stevens, Kathy Burke, Doon Mackichan, Jim Carter
Netflix launches The Sea Beast on July 8, 2022. Grade: 4.5/5
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