‘The Sea Beast’ is a visually striking, high-seas adventure
The Sea Beast, Netflix’s new animated adventure movie, may as well go by “How to Train Your [Sea] Dragon” for all its similarities to the 2010 Dreamworks film.
Drawing influence also from Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick–in addition to director/co-writer Chris Williams’ past work with Disney (Moana, Big Hero 6, Bolt)–The Sea Beast may not have much to offer apart from these stories at first glance.
But despite its somewhat sloppy amalgamation of dependable tropes, the children’s feature shouldn’t be written off. It stands on its own with visually striking animation, rousing adventure, and thought-provoking themes–all driven by one delightfully precocious and fiercely intelligent young protagonist.
Maisie Brumble (Zaris Angel-Hator)is an orphan, but the memory of her parents as great monster hunters lives on. Determined to make a name for herself just like her parents, the child stows away on the ship of the famed monster hunters Captain Crow (Jared Harris) and his adopted son Jacob Holland (Karl Urban).
At first, both Maisie and Jacob are compelled by the history that pits sea beasts against humans. But their own encounters with the legendary creatures reveals that the truth may be more complicated than what the history books detail.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the film pits young against old, challenging the preconceptions of tradition. The story is a fairly standard one, and yet it remains timely. The Sea Beast, even more so than How to Train Your Dragon, draws a direct and indicting parallel to the real world with this fantasy’s themes.
As Maisie states, “Maybe you can be a hero and still be wrong.” In other words, look critically at the history books for fiction portrayed as fact–and villains painted as heroes.
The message works especially well in The Sea Beast’s historical fantasy setting. It feels much like the real world–reflecting its diversity and social challenges.
These can be, of course, brushed over with that glossy and simplified sort of suffering as typified in children’s movies. After all, Maisie is an orphan with a tragic backstory, and she’s enlivened by… the power of positive thinking?
Still, there’s an undeniable and compelling edge to the girl’s adventure, in which tackling one’s problems with violence is the cultural standard. With its darkly looming threats and mature themes, The Sea Beast can’t be accused of underestimating its viewers’ intelligence and grit.
In many ways, The Sea Beast is a simple and perhaps overdone tale. It gets from point A to point B and still manages to leave some story threads unresolved. But there’s something to be said for William’s direct approach. You can’t ignore the film’s biting message–nor look away from Maisie’s and Jacob’s roaring journey on the high seas.
Read More: The Sea Beast Ending Explained
Verdict - 6.5/10