Okay, I’ll let (all two of) you into a little secret: I’m writing this a few days before the Oscars ceremony. So I have no idea who got the nod for Best Animated Feature Film. My money is absolutely on Pinocchio (not my choice, but it’s what I’m hearing), but I actually have no idea. The Sea Beast is the last film I’ve watched in this category, and honestly, I put it off because it has no chance of winning. But here’s what’s crazy about it all: it’s actually pretty good!
Debuting on Netflix earlier in the year, The Sea Beast is a super fun, adventurous pirate romp that not too many people seemed to have watched. The fact that it even got a nomination this year is kind of a miracle, but I have to say it really does deserve the recognition. It follows a little girl named Maisie Brumble, an orphan who has dreamed of becoming a monster hunter so she can follow in her parents’ footsteps. When she stows away on the ship of some of the most legendary monster hunters alive, they all find that there’s more to these monsters than meets the eye.
A Netflix movie that was actually semi-decent? It can’t be. Can it?! Yes, I’m as shocked as you are. It so rarely happens, but this is a truly watchable and enjoyable movie.
Seriously, The Sea Beast is really not bad. It’s a difficult one to review when it comes down to it, because it does emulate Disney and/or Dreamworks in a lot of ways, but it simultaneously has its own flavour in other, weird ways. For instance, the story is cute and has a Pixar-like message, yet it’s also a little bit more rough around the edges so to speak in that it feels more “grown up” with storylines that contain real danger. It’s a strange little film for sure, but not necessarily in a bad way.
Sadly, the entire thing is super formulaic of animated films in many ways. There’s a surprise bad guy, a token cute sidekick character, a change of heart plot twist, a “moral of the story”, and a Happy Ever After ending. It’s predictable for sure… and yet if an easy, comfort movie is what you’re looking for, it’s actually pretty good.
Visually, it is a bit hit and miss. The character design is kind of basic and often patchy in places, for example. However, the scenic landscapes? Some of the best I’ve seen for quite some time. The way the water is animated and the different uses of angles are absolutely brilliant. More specifically, there’s one stand out shot of an antagonist’s shotgun coming into focus that’s so well done that it almost looks 3D; I actually rewound the stream so my wife could see it. As a result, the average aspects are balanced out by some truly excellent ones.
There’s no way The Sea Beast will have threatened as an Oscars dark horse – I’d actually put a lot of money on that – but it is definitely entertaining (even though it’s a whole two hours long!) and will please you enough to know that you haven’t wasted your time.
The Sea Beast is currently streaming on Netflix in the UK.
TQR Category Ratings:
Costume & Set Design:
Overall Enjoyability Rating: ½