The Sea Beast Movie Review

THE SEA BEAST – Karl Urban as JACOB HOLLAND, Zaris-Angel Hator as MAISIE BRUMBLE and RED. Cr: Netflix © 2022

The Sea Beast


Reviewed for by Abe Friedtanzer

Director: Chris Williams

Writer: Chris Williams, Nell Benjamin

Cast: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jared Harris, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dan Stevens and Kathy Burke

Screened at: Netflix, Salt Lake City, UT, 1/29/23

Opens: July 8th, 2022 (Netflix)

There are many stories from throughout history about people fighting giant monsters. There are just as many tales that demonstrate that the perceived villains are in fact merely misunderstood, seen as large and terrifying and unable to communicate their true and far more peaceful intentions. But an existing narrative often serves to supplant truth, resulting in a cycle that cannot easily be undone. The Sea Beast provides a window into the eyes of a child who is better able to understand the spirit of a creature than the many adults who spend their entire lives trying to kill it.

In the seventeenth century, the crew of the Inevitable sails the seas in pursuit of sea creatures. The King and Queen fund their endeavors, and Captain Crow has a stellar reputation. His latest target, the Red Bluster, proves more difficult to kill, and his lack of success permits Admiral Hornagold of the Imperator to seize his moment to attempt to replace the famed ship as the official vessel of the crown. Crow’s loyal protégé Jacob steps in to earn Crow one last chance to prove himself, but soon finds his opinion changing as he is shown a new way to look at these sea creatures thanks to an orphaned stowaway named Maisie. 

The Sea Beast is among the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature this year, one of two Netflix entries to make the list. Unlike Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, this is a traditional computer-animated film, one that gives life to its characters in fairly expected fashion. The vast difference in size between the young Maisie and the large Red Bluster is especially notable as portrayed through animation, and it’s an effective way to tell a story that really does depend on perspective and the willingness to come at a situation from a creative and open-minded angle.

There are many elements of The Sea Beast, which comes from an original screenplay by Nell Benjamin and director Chris Williams, that feel familiar. Its general narrative is one that has been explored in numerous projects, both for children and not, and there is definitely a sense that these adults have no regard for life, ready to kill creatures they can’t understand for sport. This presentation enables those themes to be explored in a way that can be digested by children and by adults.

The voice cast of this film greatly enhances the experience. Jared Harris and Karl Urban imbue Crow and Jacob with exactly the right energy, and they’re well-matched by Dan Stevens as the pompous Hornagold and Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Sarah, Crow’s loyal first mate. As Maisie, Zaris-Angel Hator embodies the free-thinking, determined child in all of us, someone who realizes that what everyone tells her may not be right just because other people say it’s so and is willing to take the time to see the people – or alleged beasts – for who they really are. 

Williams has plentiful animation experience thanks to his work on Bolt and Big Hero 6, and his latest project has apparently been popular enough for its streaming service to commission a sequel, a clear sign of success. While there may not be much to distinguish The Sea Beast from past films either in terms of its animation or its story, it’s nonetheless a perfectly competent showcase of the intersection of youth and established societal norms that should be just as relevant today as it was when its events take place.

115 minutes

Story: B

Acting: B+

Technical: B+

Overall: B

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s