Pirates of The Caribbean has dominated the swashbuckling adventure genre for nearly two decades. But now, there’s a new kid on the block; The Sea Beast! Released on July 8th 2022, this all-new Netflix original brings new competition to Disney’s fearsome, bad-breathed Kraken in the form of the equally formidable Red Bluster.
Directed and co-written by Chris Williams, the man who brought us Bolt and Big Hero 6, The Sea Beast centres around a crew of monster hunters (roughly 18th-century era) and an unforeseen stowaway passenger, a little orphan girl named Maisie Brumble. Off on a quest to slay the Red Bluster, as ordered by their royals, things go awry for Captain Crow and his crew when Crow’s adopted son, Jacob, is begrudgingly made to take Maisie under his wing. Her childish curiosity and fervent zeal for the sailor’s life soon leads the pair into dire straits, in which they end up learning more about their hunted prey than they originally bargained for.
The first thing I want to talk about here is the animation. For years, Pixar and Disney have been the leading lights of Western animation, but lately, Netflix has been throwing them some real curve balls. And they really knocked it out of the park with this one! Every second of the Sea Beast’s animation is masterful work. Bright, bold and vibrant, the visuals masterfully interweave photorealistic scenery with stylised character designs, all of which are layered with breathtaking detail. Seriously, the water alone in this movie will take your breath away!
These gorgeous visuals were set to the equally engaging accompaniment of Mark Mancina’s soundtrack, a real stand-out feature of which are the traditional sounding sea shanties. With their upbeat fiddle tunes alongside their jovial lyrics, overlaid with all the raucous clapping of a drunken tavern jig, it really feels like something that came straight from a genuine, two-hundred-year-old, beer-stained book of shanties. It pulls you into the world so entirely that you feel loath to look away.
The story itself is very well put together, with a definite direction leading to a compelling throughline. Co-written between Chris Williams and Nell Benjamin, the screenplay is packed to the brim with humour. It has a consistently dry comedic overtone, laced with just enough slapstick to elicit a meaningful smirk and a promptly followed belly laugh. What I will say, though, is that there were elements of the plot I would have liked to have seen developed further. A few very tantalising plot points were presented at different times throughout the movie that ended up fizzling away into insignificance, instead choosing to focus primarily on the relationship between Jacob and Maisie and their shared contention regarding the hunt. On the upside, though, this did allow plenty of breathing room for character development.
With Karl Urban as Jacob, starring alongside Zaris-Angel Hator as Maisie, the time we spent with these two characters was an absolute joy! Bouncing off one another with constant back and forth banter, the vocal chemistry between Urban and Hator is on point! This was further complemented by a wealth of other great performances. Honourable mentions go to Jared Harris as Captain Crow and Marianne Jean-Baptiste as first mate, Sarah Sharpe.
The Sea Beast is the kind of film that has you hooked from the word go, from which it consistently holds your attention with its larger-than-life characters, well-written dialogue, exquisite animation, and charmingly traditional soundtrack. You’re instantly pulled into the world and will not lower your eyes until the credits start to roll. Furthermore, alongside the fantastical adventure, The Sea Beast is sure to make you tear up a couple of times as it delivers its poignant message regarding humanity’s habitual abuse of nature.
If you’re a fan of animation, adventure and cinema in general, this one is definitely worth a look. And what’s more, its universal appeal means you can enjoy it with the kids, friends, family, or just yourself and a bowl of popcorn!
Have you watched The Sea Beast yet? Were you swept away, or did it leave you dead in the water? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
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