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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'The Sea Beast' Review: Underwater Monsters Might Not Be Monsters After All

Jacob and Maisie sailing on a small boat

Oi mates! So, we set sail to the seven seas, get ready to fight some monsters and not question all that much why we do it. Directed by Chris Williams and written by Neil Benjamin and Williams, animated action-adventure The Sea Beast instead does that for us with some environmental subtext acting as its winds. An orphaned young girl named Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator)—inspired by legends she's reading—stows away on a beast hunting ship commanded by Captain Crow (Jared Harris) and Maisie's hero Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) despite Jacob's reluctance to have her on. Following a destructive encounter with a super-sized beast nicknamed ''Red'', Jacob and Maisie find themselves on an unexpected survival journey which ends up challenging the impact of beast hunting.

You couldn't necessarily tell from most of the first act that it eventually quiets down to a fairly ordinary family film since there's quite a lot of action and even fright, minus all the blood that these clashes between hunters and animals would normally have. You wouldn't, however, be too far off to recommend those parts to kaiju fans as surely things like 'Godzilla' were used as a reference. While some of the dialogue reflects that discrepancy in that Benjamin and Williams later make Jacob talk down both to Maisie and much younger viewers, there is a commendable amount of weight in their script overall. Parents and children might have conversations about animal conservation in general afterwards, and more so the allegory to whaling (in places like Faroe Islands that are under a monarchy) can inspire further curiosity for people of any age.

It's also appropriate to talk a bit about the medium but even though many will surely point out the water animation specifically, one highlight of it is actually incredible work with greenery, especially leafs and trees which look so realistic that you're half-expecting the actual actors to show up in that environment. There is also inconsistency with those actors as Hator's voice acting is rather entertaining and energetic (plus there's a great monologue at the very end), Harris brings needed menace and Urban just seems miscast while also providing a really unemphatic performance. In addition to some of the animation, The Sea Beast's storytelling also gets a boost from a terrific sound work, mainly in terms of the mix, which neatly separates the action happening underwater, on the ship and island that Maisie and Jacob stay at.

Smileys: Sound mixing, screenplay, Zaris-Angel Hator

Frowneys: Karl Urban, dialogue

Just don't think about how hard water actually is for someone falling.


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