It's easy to think of a movie that everyone has seen before as just another piece of art that has been done before. Even though that first impression wouldn't be completely wrong, it would take away from the film's ability to teach, amuse, or otherwise entertain an audience. That's definitely the case with The Sea Beast, a great animated movie on Netflix with a great cast and a good story.
The Sea Beast is a movie about Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) and Maisie Brumble. It was directed by Chris Williams, who also made Moana (Zaris-Angel Hator). Jacob is so selfless that it's hard to believe he's a famous Hunter. Hunters are like pirates and have to hunt giant sea creatures. Captain Crow (Jared Harris) only goes against him when a crew member is in danger. Even so, it's the gentlest of nudges, because he owes everything to the man who raised him. Things change when Jacob meets Maisie Brumble by chance. Maisie is a curious little girl who has always wanted to be a Hunter and sneaks onto his ship.
Early parts of the story set up the idea of a wild monster-hunting adventure, which is mostly brought to life by well-made action scenes on the open water. It's fun to watch the hunters fight big beasts while trying to keep their ships together. But the risks and benefits of this kind of life are only the tip of the iceberg. If you look closer, you'll see that The Sea Beast is a movie about how family ties and the historical importance of things that happened in the past can affect a person's future. But that idea can often be turned into something else.
What used to be a way to stay close to the people we care about most may now push them away. Or, even worse, you could be the reason they die too soon. This is clear from the way Captain Crow and Jacob treat each other. Crow's need for revenge is stronger than his desire to pass on his history. He is always after his "white whale," and he doesn't care that he is hurting Jacob or putting his crew in dangerous situations.
This way of thinking about how family ties can be bad isn't completely new. How this message is told is what makes it hit home. The movie doesn't rely too much on humour to keep you interested. Instead, it handles each problem in a mature way. There isn't much in the way of figurative language. Everything important is either shown directly or said with a lot of passion from the cast. Since children are likely to make up a big part of the movie's audience, this way of telling the story is a good choice. Still, some of the violence may be too much for the youngest people to handle. But the focus on telling it like it is helps frame the more difficult parts of the journey. In the end, some parts of The Sea Beast may be too violent for younger viewers, but the movie does a good job of telling a story in a way that most people can understand, so families should watch it together if they can.
Without a good cast, none of that would work. Jacob, played by Karl Urban, is entertaining as the reluctant hero. He's a character that's easy to like, and when he's funny, he does it just right. As Captain Crow, Jared Harris does a great job. Even though he doesn't always see things the right way, his changes of mind are interesting, if not always easy to understand. Crow's number two, Sarah Sharpe, played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste, is underused, but not because she doesn't get enough screen time. It has more to do with how her actions, no matter how subtle, show that there is more to her story that is worth learning. Maisie Brumble by Zaris-Angel Hator is the same way. She also has a cool story to tell. But because of what's going on in the present, we get just enough story to make up for her lack of history. And Maisie steals every scene she's in because she acts well and her lines are well written.
There are also some great computer animations in the movie. There are some patterns in the way characters and monsters are made, and all of the monsters have a "How to Train Your Dragon" feel to them. But the bright colours and careful attention to detail make up for most of the criticism. This is especially true of the water, which sometimes looks so real it could be a photograph.
The Sea Beast is a good animated movie, but it has some problems. The main one is that the movie is a bit of a cliche, with parts taken from older movies. Anyone who knows Pixar or Dreamworks will be able to see the influence of those studios here. Even so, that doesn't take away from what the movie does well. And it still tells a great adventure story with fully realised characters, thanks to great voice acting and a great script, as well as great animation. In general, The Sea Beast is a great addition to Netflix's list of animated shows.