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Review: 'The Sea Beast' (2022) Dir. Chris Williams

Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jared Harris, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jim Carter, Doon Mackichan, Kathy Burke and Dan Stevens

 

A sea-faring adventure from Netflix that harnesses the teams from Sony to create an exciting and humorous tale about unlikely friendships and protecting those in great danger...


Sea monster hunters Jacob Holland (Urban) and Captain Crow (Harris) work under payment of the Royal King (Carter) and Queen (Mackichan) to rid the seas of horrid, scary beasts who are responsible for the loss of many trading and battle ships.


Young Maisie Brumble (Hator) stows away on Holland and Crow's ship, eager to see the adventure for herself. But when Brumble and Holland aer lost at sea when they tackle the mighty Red Bluster, Crow ensures no beast will be left alive.


But Brumble and Holland are safe and well, and soon befriend the gentle Bluster as they come to see he is an innocent creature caught up in a volatile sea war. Only the two hunters can protect Bluster and prevent greater disasters on the seven seas for all involved...

From the opening battle against a monstrous green sea beast that is tentacled, fanged and clawed, it’s clear this is a rousing sea adventure full of harpoons, mighty frigates and lots of “lubbers!”, “Cap’ns!” and “Ayes” to make even Captain Jack Sparrow feel right at home. We join a band of brave buccaneers as they hunt the seven seas for beasts as fearsome and dangerous as they come. In order to make these eye-patches wearing, cutlass wielding, scar etched band of monster hunters who are adorned by all a little softer around the edges, young wannabe hunter Zaris-Angel Hator sneaks away with professional Karl Urban who has enough experience and stories in his service to make captain one day. Once paid by the Royals to kill monsters taking out their ships but now left to fend for themselves, it’s down to Urban and his crew to find the biggest beast of them all and make the seas a safer place before the mighty Royal Navy tear everything up in their quest for pride and glory.


Urban and young Hator are the main pairing here, thrust together in their quest to first hunt a major sea beast, but then learn to care and protect it as understandings change. Urban is the tough-talking buccaneer who hunts monsters for a living but slowly has his eyes opened by Hator to not just his own lifestyle, but the beauty of the natural (and often quirky) world around him. Jared Harris is the eye-patch wearing, tattooed Captain Crow, Marianne Jean-Baptiste is the hard-faced and hard-nosed Sarah Sharpe and we have Brit thesps Jim Carter and Doon Mackichan as the well-to-do King and Queen.

A real good selection of talent here bring their characters to life perfectly for the time and era, tough and gruff when they need to be, soft and delicate at times too.

With Sony Pictures Imageworks providing the animation, this is a slick and colourful looking world they’ve created, instantly recognisable from the ones who helped bring the likes of ‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’, ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ and ‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs’ to the screen. There’s lots of great details to both our humans and the world they live in, with crashing and swallowing waves to sun-kissed ports, mighty frigates and golden sands. There is real authenticity to the kit and gear we see, adding a real swashbuckling air to the story. The costumes are as fitting as they come, the weapons, swords, pistols and cannons pack a real punch and the score by Mark Mancina is as good as it comes for the period. It shows with great thought and attention to detail for such a simple genre, be it animation or real-life, it works to be a very immersive and atmospheric tale away from modern technology and general noise.


There is action and adventure throughout as well as the drama and emotion of caring for those who look up to you and knowing what feels right and wrong in the face of great pressure and expectation. You’ll be forgiven in seeing a few traits of How To Train Your Dragon in here, especially with the colourful and crazy creatures on show and the rather sweet strawberry red beast ‘Red Bluster’ who help add a bit more of the comedy and, surprisingly, humanity to proceedings. There is never a dip in animation when it comes to our battles with the sea monsters either, with explosions bellowing out as canons roar from port and starboard, waves splash up as the bow spears through and sails are dropped to catch the wind. Navigation is charted on old maps, and sunsets look stunning on the waters. It’s the stuff that all great yarns are made from, with lots of imagination on show here that we’ve played in video games, seen in films or read in books.

The story itself is a very simple one, and a theme has run through many family / children's films, but it’s the visual style and genre this is based in that sets it high. It’s no surprise director Chris Williams has a back catalogue that involves films such as The Emperor's New Groove, Bolt, Big Hero 6 and Moana. Williams and his team touch upon the harrows of war, the innocents caught up in blind confrontation and the damage it does to the natural world and the inhabitants. Disney have had great success with Williams, and you can see why thanks to his new latest adventure that embodies everything his work with Disney stands for, but with a unique twist.

For a Netflix production, this is a slick, entertaining and spunky swashbuckling adventure that can stand tall with the best of them. Family friendly thrills, heart, humour and heroism in a sub-genre we don’t really see enough of nowadays, especially in animation.





'The Sea Beast' is a Netflix Animation production


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