The Sea Beast is a spectacular swashbuckling adventure with nuanced themes and gorgeous art.
I hope more animated films are emboldened to follow in its titanic footsteps.
Directed by Chris Williams (Moana, Big Hero Six) The Sea Beast is an epic adventure story about a young orphan who dreams of hunting sea monsters. From the opening scene of The Sea Beast, one can tell that this won’t be another cookie-cutter animated film. The Sea Beast feels like a film that happens to be animated rather than an 11-minute cartoon premise that’s been stretched out into a movie.
The Sea Beast has swashbuckling adventure and giant monster battles, but the film, much like the sea beasts themselves, has more to it than meets the eye. This is not your typical animated feature that’s jam-packed with jokes and frenetic pacing. The humor comes from broad physical comedy similar to Pirates of the Caribbean and is fully integrated into the adventure set-pieces.
I commend the filmmakers for having the courage to commit to the pathos and drama of the narrative without sugarcoating everything in comedy. The serious tone gives greater weight to the costs of war and increases the impact of the film’s message. It costs a great deal of time and money to make animated feature films so there is an impetus to soften all the hard edges and appeal to the widest audience possible. However, The Sea Beast never talks down to the viewer and it’s a better film for it. I hope more animated films follow The Sea Beast’s example with a commitment to drama, adventure, and challenging themes.
The Sea Beast is now streaming on Netflix.