The Sea Beast Movie Review & Movie Summary (2022)
Chris Williams (who directed “Big Hero 6” and “Moana”) makes his confident solo debut with a screenplay he co-wrote with Nell Benjamin that undermines classic maritime adventure mythology. After a short prologue that introduces us to Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) as she flees her orphanage in search of greater adventure, Williams and his team stage an impressive battle at sea between two monster-hunting ships and a huge beast. Immediately there is a feeling that the craft here is high when the sequence unfolds with the weakening tentacles of a Kraken-like beast and the ships trying to defeat it. “The Sea Beast” takes place in the middle of a great war between monsters and men, the latter funded by a king (Jim Carter) and queen (Doon Mackichan) who obviously does not mind putting people in danger, but who would never risk his own security.
The other hero in this great story is Jacob Holland (Karl Urban, finds a pleasantly vulnerable hero in his voice work), a boy who grew up on a hunting ship called The Inevitable, powered by the ruthless Captain Crow (Jared Harris). The Ahab in this story, Crow, represents the old guard hunter, one who has been doing this for so long that he is obsessed with hunting the creature that caught his eye, no matter what it cost. When Maisie stows away on their ship while hunting, the sea creature, a red giant known as Bluster, says everything changes. Through a series of action-driven events, Maisie and Jacob discover that everything they have been told about the battle between man and monster has been a myth.
To be fair, “The Sea Beast” takes a little too long to build up steam, and there is a tighter 100-minute version of this movie buried in it that lasts for almost two hours. I wanted to tighten it up in some places, and I wish the world building was a little stronger. Some of the places also feel sparsely designed, but if all the time and budget went to the beautifully rendered monsters, it’s understandable.
Most of all, and this is rare today in American animation, I admired the script for “The Sea Beast”, one that weaves the aforementioned obvious influences together into something refreshingly daring. This film takes narrative risks in that it is a monster hunting film that is ultimately anti-violence. This is the kind of thing good parents look for in that it both entertains and provokes conversation. And it’s a hopeful sign that Netflix can start to become a more prominent voice in original animation. As long as they are willing to make films as rich as “The Sea Beast”.
On Netflix today.