Just why Chris Williams The Sea Beast didn’t play in theatres isn’t a vast mystery. It would have struggled against Minions: The Rise of Gru, and Thor: Love and Thunder. In August, the only real contender is Luck, and I suspect interest between the two would be neck in neck.
When considering its scope and grandiose action sequences, I’d be more excited to watch this film on a big screen than small. And when going up against Luck, it has the name recognition behind it to give it a fighting chance. This filmmaker is best known for Big Hero 6 and Moana. Although this latest is not a Disney film, perhaps Netflix isn’t ready to market to movie houses just yet.
Technically, this movie did have a small screening in select markets before hitting the streaming service. And if they are testing the waters of entering this market, the box office results aren’t being reported. Even after all that’s been revealed with August’s annual Shark Week tradition, this film seems forgotten. This distributor’s weak push for quality animated films have been swallowed by its competition.
Hopefully, the studio will consider playing in the big leagues more. Their past works like The Willoughbys may not be a huge draw, but other projects done in partnership with them can be. They’ve developed two movies with Sony Pictures Imageworks, and this company produced the effects for major blockbusters.
I can only imagine what The Sea Beast would look like on the silver screen. Williams’ ambitious story combines Pirates of the Caribbean sized action adventure with How to Train Your Dragon because everyone is after Red Bluster, a giant sea dragon. Honestly, the art design can’t get any better.
The story is top-notch, and we have lots of significant development between the leads. Zaris-Angel Hator gives a wonderful, enthusiastic performance as the young girl who discovers that not all sea beasts are evil. They’re only hostile towards those hunting them for sport.
On the other hand, Captain Crow (Jared Harris) is out for revenge, and his adopted son Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) is only following in his father’s footsteps because he doesn’t know better. After an incident which forces the young man and girl together, what they learn about these beasts is that they are gentle giants, much like King Kong. Comparatively, even this ape wasn’t considered dangerous until humanity captured and put him on display.
Williams plays with the idea of victory being written by the winners. He cleverly injects hints about the monarchy not representing the goodwill of the people, and I suspected something was up when we first met the king and queen. They were very intent on getting their latest naval ship, The Imperator sailing, but Crow convinces them to give his crew another chance.
As for whether this pirate can succeed doesn’t matter. The focus is on revealing how love and compassion should extend to everyone, even outsiders and oppressors. I suspect the vague Jonah and the whale reference when Maisie and Jake get swallowed by Red was intentional. The fact they weren’t fully eaten, and in what they later discover about Red says it all. This moment is very sweet and also shows that not everyone hates sea beasts.
3½ Stars out of 5