The Sea Beast [82.08%]

Director: Chris Williams

Story By: Chris Williams, Nell Benjamin, Mattson Tomlin, & Sam Stratton

Cast: Zaris-Angel Hator, Karl Urban, Jared Harris, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, & Helen Sadler

* * *

I noticed that my timeline had quite a few people drawn to this film, so I wanted to see what the hype was about. It was cute, but I noticed that it was the lead representation that was the cause for watching. I don’t think I’ve seen an animation film with a visible young black lead alongside a white co-lead, or at least for the entire duration of an animated film in human form.  

* * *

Theme & Story: A

Pacing: A-

Character: A-

Overall “Paper” Score: A-

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Interesting Enough

Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Don’t Watch

Film Enthusiasts: Interesting Enough

Animation Adventure / Comedy Fans: Interesting Enough

Overall “Viewing Experience” Score: Don’t Rush (Adult) / Interesting Enough (Child)

* * *


1. An orphan girl, fascinated by the stories of monster hunters of the sea, breaks out in hopes of becoming a hunter as well in the name of her family, and finds herself encountering one of the most sought after monsters of them all. This is The Sea Beast. 

Thematically, I was able to piece together messaging about the power/impact of narrative controlling, as well as the power of an interaction; and for the most part, the theme was pretty solid. 

Act One is a well paced exposition, bringing into view the image of a “sea beast” at the scene of a shipwreck and one of our lead characters. This segues into meeting our main lead literally enthralled by a narrative of the scene previously seen. From this point I am informed of her context, and her motivation for the movement of the story—which is impacted by “a narrative.” I am then transitioned to an actualization of “the narrative” that eventually becomes the reason for our lead characters to cross paths, which is also led heavily by our young lead’s excitement from the narrative she’s always known. This interaction then makes way for our lead characters to encounter The Sea Beast in a way that begins to interrupt “that narrative.” 

Act Two directly tackles the narrative interruption in two different ways. First, through the encounter with the Sea Beast by both characters—both learning more about the beast while also learning about themselves. The second way was with Jacob’s character and his interaction with Maisie which eventually aids in the learning via the encounter. This Act also continues with displaying the impact/power a narrative and interaction still has negatively via the hunters who end up putting themselves in a situation for the sake of completing the mission. 

Act Three brings clarity to the theme for our young main character while bringing about some conflicting tension for Jacob in regards to the Sea Beast and the hunters ultimately leading to shared clarity for Jacob as well, and providing an unsurprising closure to the theme and story in general. 

Overall, theme and story cohesion and continuity was strong due to its pretty linear structure. 👍🏾

2. Good work, Zaris-Angel Hator! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

3. Blue was such a random character…but it was adorable. 👍🏾

4. Mrs. Merino had one job… and she understood her assignment. 😂😂👍🏾

5. The Sea Beast has a runtime of about 105 minutes, and I found it to be paced well entertainment wise. There were 2 main areas that I would’ve loved to have a little more time dedicated to—the connection between the King and Queen and the Sea Beasts infatuation, and more flashback insight to Gwen Batterie. Just something to give it a little more depth / range from to the linear. 🤷🏾‍♂️

6. I mean… I get it that this was an imaginative world with “sea beasts,” but the island of other creature and/or oversized crustaceans felt odd and random… it was as if folks just ran out of ideas and defaulted to “It’s PG, so we can just do whatever, but make it stimulating to the eye…”🤦🏾‍♂️

7. The animation of the ocean during the storm was beautifully done. 😩🙌🏾

8. You know what really stood out to me in this film? The transitions from one scene to the next… they were so smooth and thought out. 👍🏾👍🏾

9. I really enjoyed Maisie. I don’t know if it was the accent, the personality, or a blend of the two (LOL), but she was such an honest and genuine young spirited character who I appreciated. Thematically, she embodied the idea of what it’s like to be inspired and moved by books of interest, but to also still be inquisitive and adventurous of the real world in order to make sound sense of reality. 

What I like about Jacob’s character is that he was influenced by his interaction with Maisie… Or in better words, his growth as a character and person—which is connected to the themes—was because of his interaction with Maisie; which is something we all as adults have done or should put ourselves in positions to do—learn from the present generation/the youth. The banter between the two really worked well for the entertainment pacing of the film. 

The Sea Beast didn’t really give me “terrifying.” Maybe it was the animation, or maybe that was the whole point for the story itself. I don’t know. I also didn’t find the Sea Beast that interesting…it was a well used flat character and prop to carry out the theme, which is good, but I wasn’t really drawn to the Sea Beast other than that due to the story not really giving the Beast anything for me to latch on to. 

Captain Crow was a solid character who truly embodied what it meant to be committed to the narrative known to him, and driven by a past interaction that he felt needed to be addressed. I also appreciated the range of his character, giving him a sense of roundness. 👍🏾

10. The animation 0f the hair texture was well done, especially in scenes with Maisie going from swimming to land. 👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾

* * *

Overall #TheSeaBeast gives Annie – meets Moby Dick – meets Godzilla: King of Monsters – meets Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – meets The Cay by Theodore Taylor – meets Free Willy

First, I want to say that maybe it was just me, but it seemed like the animation in the first 10 minutes or so felt SUPER outdated—like watching a remastered “Bugs Life” or “Antz”…I was like, “what in the world is this cheap/on a budget animation?” (LOL LOL). It definitely got better though. 

This was definitely cute, but it doesn’t really have any lasting impressions for me. It was a pretty straight forward story that was good, but it felt a little lazy in terms of adding depth to some of the tension. But again, Zaris-Angel Hator did a great job as the lead character Maisie. I really enjoyed her overall youthful spirit exuding through the character. 

I can see this possibly getting some award recognition for animation and/or effects. Maybe not a win, but definitely recognition for some of the animation choices…but those first few minutes might get in the way, because that animation looked a little archaic LOL 

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