Netflix Shows: Reasons to Watch ‘The Sea Beast’

Screenshot of Jacob as voiced by Karl Urban, and Maisie as voiced by Zaris-Angel Hator. Copyright goes to Netflix.

Hey! Hallie here!

Recently the nominees for the 2023 Oscar’s were announced, including the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film. The movies up for the Oscar were all easily predicted by most people, all aside from one entry. ‘The Sea Beast’ making it onto the list of nominees was a surprise to most and effectively shot this movie back into audience’s radar. When it first came out on Netflix it wasn’t extremely well advertised, but the people who saw it seemed to only have positive things to say about it. Still, after some reviewers claimed the movie was just a redo of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, a good amount of people wrote it off. I was one of those people. But now that I’ve actually given this movie a chance I can confidently say I don’t know what those reviewers were talking about. This movie was wonderfully whimsical and extremely unique. So if you’re still on the fence, here are all the things you’re sure to love if you give ‘The Sea Beast’ a chance.

The Main Characters: First off, our leading lady is a young Black girl named Maisie. It’s so nice to see a movie center the power of a little Black girl. And Maisie is a particularly badass little girl. From the first moment we see her we know she’s rebellious and intelligent, with her heart set on adventure. She’s fearless both in her attempts to escape from her orphanage and in her first attempts to join the group of pirates she idolizes. But she’s also sweet. She’s the catalyst for all of the characters in the movie coming to understand sea monsters, purely because of her immediate willingness to empathize with them. And the wisdom her kindness gives her sometimes makes her seem more capable than the adult characters in the film. It’s really impossible not to fall in love with Maisie. Then there’s Jacob, who happens to be both a handsome pirate and voiced by Karl Urban. Which means he’s a very attractive animated character. He’s also surprisingly gentle for the kind of character you think he’s going to be. He’s roguish but proud, showing an immense amount of self confidence in his abilities to the point of seeming self-centered. But pretty early on the film makes a point of balancing out his pompous nature with his natural care and concern for others. And all of that is only made more obvious when he meets Maisie. Though he initially doesn’t like her and doesn’t see himself as the kind of person who would be good with children, he’s also the first to warm up to her and takes caring for her very seriously. Even when he doesn’t fully believe Maisie’s ideas about sea monsters, he’s still willing to hear her out and wastes no time questioning his biases. I would gladly watch several more movies about these two.

The Ensemble Cast: Though Maisie and Jacob are the real highlights here, the entire cast is irresistibly likable. My favorite of the ensemble cast is Sarah Sharpe, the apparent first mate of Captain Crow. She’s blunt and no-nonsense, never letting anyone waste her time. She’s also very clearly the entirety of the brains on the ship. Literally all of them. Just like Jacob, she initially doesn’t know what to do with Maisie and isn’t certain she likes her very much. But. because she’s awesome, she still gives Maisie her first knife and is technically the first person to welcome her into the pirate crew. The way she warms up to Maisie as the movie goes on is almost just as endearing as Maisie’s storyline with Jacob. Captain Crow is also an interesting character. He’s an understandable character who you respect, but he’s simultaneously very dangerous and the movie does a good job of making sure you remember that. Along with that he has an interesting father/son relationship with Jacob that complicates much of the movie in an almost heart-wrenching way. Though the rest of the crew aren’t as well developed, I still appreciated all of them. The diversity in the crew is incredible, with Fen, who seems purposefully gender ambiguous and has been referred to by they/them pronouns in promotional content, being the standout for me. Also amongst the crew is a surgeon, which regardless of his small amount of screen time, made me unreasonably happy. We don’t often see surgeon characters in pirate media, but I love when we do. Though the main villainous characters aren’t all that interesting, I’d say the rest of the cast more than makes up for them.

The Sea Beasts: Though I wouldn’t say you explore any of the personalities of these creatures to the extent that you explore the personality of say Toothless in ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, I still really adored the sea beasts. Red is, of course, one of the most eye catching. While her design is simple, staying to mostly one color, it’s very clever. Her fins and tail make her resemble a whale, which gives an air of familiarity for the audience, but her horn and snake-like neck add something whimsical to her design. And she isn’t the only sea beast with a great design. From the giant purple crab with a mouth resembling the Kraken from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, to the yellow walrus-like creature with tusks, to the armored alligator-like beast at the beginning of the movie. There’s a clever amount of aquatic designs, bright colors, and scary features to make any lover of creature design happy. I especially loved Blue, the squishy creature with frog eyes who always stole each scene he was in with his adorableness. Though none of the sea beasts have full personalities, I did enjoy how Red’s storyline mirrored Jacob’s. While Red often only attacked when provoked, there were situations where that wasn’t the case. Jacob, similarly, was quick to judge or attack the sea beasts he initially came across because of how little he trusted them. I loved the understanding Maisie fostered between them both as they both attempted to move past their violent tendencies. This connection between all three characters was shockingly deep for what I expected from this movie.

The Pirate Theming: I just have to throw this in here because I’m a huge lover of pirates and pirate theming. There’s a reason why the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films are some of my favorite films of all time. ‘The Sea Beast’ offers the perfect amount of pirate theming. There’s a crew with a satisfying sense of camaraderie, sea monsters, beautifully designed pirate ships, and even conflict with the crown. It has everything you want out of a pirate story and more. I’m really picky about pirate media because I often find that shows don’t properly capture the love for adventure and fantastical ideas about the sea that draw people to the pirate genre in the first place. ‘The Sea Beast’ has no problem with capturing either of these. I’ll definitely be returning to this movie to get my pirate fix.

I personally loved this movie. Though I’m pretty certain it won’t be able to beat out some of the other animated films in the Best Animated Feature Film category at the Oscar’s, I definitely think it’s good enough to win an Oscar and it at least deserves recognition. Though it does portray a child who befriends a monster-like creature in a world that dislikes those kinds of creatures, it isn’t similar to ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ at all. Beyond the basics, this movie comes with a completely different plot and completely different stakes, as well as themes about found family and overcoming past trauma to make way for a new future. It’s such a well done film and if you haven’t watched it yet, I really hope I convinced you to watch this immediately. Right now. Do it.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!


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