Just the other day I was reflecting upon the original movies on Netflix )after I watched The Man from Toronto) and how there were so many that were terrible and how they create a reputation of poorly made films on the streamer. However, I need to clarify that comment today. Fact is, most of the time, the animated movies that are released as original movie son Netflix range from watchable (Vivo, Monster House, The Wish Dragon) to the brilliant (Klaus, Mitchells vs. the Machines, Apollo 10 1/2). Even the few that do not work well for me have an audience for a younger viewer.
This weekend saw the release on Netflix of another of the animation films that would fall into the brilliant category as we get The Sea Beast, directed by first time solo director Chris Williams and featuring the voice acting of Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator and Jared Harris.
There had been an ages old war between the various sea monsters and the humans where the heroic hunter went out to fight and kill the monsters, giving their lives if needed. One of the most famous of the hunters was Captain Crow (Jared Harris), who was on the trail of the hated Red Bluster with his first mate Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) aboard his ship The Inevitable.
One day, in pursuit of the Red Bluster, the Inevitable had to break away from their prey in order to give aid to another hunter ship that was being attacked by another monster. After killing it, Crow brought the horn to the King and Queen of The Crown, who were unhappy that The Inevitable broke away from their pursuit of the Red Bluster to follow the hunter’s “code”. The King and Queen prepared to end hunters and offer the job to the royal navy instead.
Jacob approached the royals and offered a deal, a contest between the navy and the Inevitable to see who could return with the Red Bluster.
Meanwhile, an orphan girl from a family of hunters Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) stowed away on the ship, hoping to become a famous hunter like her parents. She bonded with Jacob eventually and the pair of them appeared to have been consumed by the Red Bluster. However, they survived inside the beast’s mouth and the beast returned to its home, allowing Maisie and Jacob a different view of the monsters.
First, the animation is computer generated and is just breathtaking throughout the film. The beauty of the ocean images were wonderfully rendered and the designs of the characters were top notch. There were plenty of shots in The Sea Beast that was art of the best kind.
Karl Urban, Jared Harris, Zaris-Angel Hator and Marianne Jean-Baptiste (who played Sarah Sharpe, another ship mate) do very strong work as the voices of the four primary characters. Urban and Hator have a excellent bond and they create a wonderful pair. Their relationship is a the heart of The Sea Beast. How Jacob and Maisie connected with Red, the name she gave the Red Bluster, works extremely well.
The film certainly has some “How to Train Your Dragon” vibes to it, but those films are exceptional and are a good series in which to base your story. The Sea Beast takes the ideas from Dragon and builds on their own mythology and takes the story into a different path. The finale of the film is tense and emotional and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
There was a scene in the film when Captain Crow went to find his ultimate weapon to battle Red and he went to find an elderly merchant named Gwen Batterbie (Kathy Burke). She was supposed to be a spooky character and she made plenty of weird implications that Crow would suffer for using the weapon, but this was only referred to once again and becomes an unimportant piece of the story. This was a waste of time and lacked an appropriate pay off. This was the weakest part of the film.
Despite that hiccup, The Sea Beast was a joyous good time with some great characters and an enjoyable story. It is truly a gorgeous looking film and would be a fun time for families of all kind.