de facto film reviews 3 stars

As the years press on, it seems as if film mediums are becoming less creative and more of a cash grab in order to rake in profits or stream clicks rather than develop a story worth sitting through. The medium that has suffered more than most is animation, and the trendsetters are the big studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, and even Sony Pictures Animation to mention just a few. Even taking a peek at each studio’s recent films, you can see that with every 1 well-developed film made, 3 cash grabs are made in the same year. And it’s terrifying witnessing this trend on the rise as we become accustomed to the brash film entries being made. But amidst this gloomy era, silver linings are eventually found in the thick of it.

That silver lining is that it becomes remarkably easier to spot the skillfully crafted films from the sloppily managed shlock greenlit being produced each year. This year’s animations have varied, from the immensely tedious Marmaduke to solid films such as Turning Red and Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Adventure. It’s safe to say that Netflix has been producing a decent number of films in the animated community, such as their latest surprise hit, The Sea Beast. This 17th-century based seaman story takes you on a journey on the mysterious oceans, filled with sea monsters seemingly taken right from Greek mythology. To combat these potentially dangerous creatures, hunters sail the vast seas in order to track and eventually eliminate these apex predators. 

The Sea Beast' Review: Of Monsters and Men - The New York Times

What separates The Sea Beast apart from recent animated films is the writing and material. A film targeted toward children; it touches on the somewhat dark subject of death along with the overall pride of dying a great death. And it’s genuinely refreshing to see the maturity of this PG film touch on such topics, as it brings me back to animation in the past when they were never afraid to discuss or even dabble in the field of the specific subject matter. But seeing as it’s Chris Williams’ writing, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that this film includes topics such as death, considering his Oscar-winning film, Big Hero 6, which touches on grief as well.

The beauty of this film sprouts from all areas, but it’s the quality of storytelling that lays it on a pedestal as it takes its time working on world-building while also explaining in detail the crew we will be setting sail with for a majority of the runtime. Williams writes each character intricately, detailing them and ensuring their arcs are completed by the end of the film without rushing at any point. And as you watch this film, you may see that it is highly reminiscent of the exhilarating adaptation, How To Train Your Dragon, as it alludes to the morality of hunting beautiful creatures in their own realm. Although it does not match the significance of How to Train Your Dragon, it certainly develops its own impact through the story itself. Williams does a great job subverting expectations as well, refraining from distracting audiences with its subplots but instead, letting them flow freely without affecting the main plot points. And because its pacing is managed correctly, the film utilizes its almost 2-hour runtime nearly perfectly.

The Sea Beast' Review – The Hollywood Reporter

But what blends with the storytelling so well and propels the overall tale is the work done by the animation team. The work done on this film is technically stunning, from the perfect particle effects within the water to the detail of our characters and most of the sea creatures. A huge prop to the team behind the extremely detailed work, as it pulls together the entire film by featuring seemingly photorealistic CGI. It is quite staggering to take in the sheer perfection of the animation, while also digesting the compelling storyline. But the appeal of this film does not end there as the film will inevitably shock you with the gorgeous cinematography and beautifully crafted shots in almost every scene, featuring the alluring yet terrifying depths of the ocean and the mysteries that come with it. How the film is able to convey the overwhelming intensity that comes with sailing the great behemoths of the ocean is beyond me, but it’s wonderful to see. And although the small flaws come from the animation as well, especially when it comes to the weirdly basic design of the main sea beast, I would say it has little to no effect on the overall quality of the film as the animation is still seductive as ever. 

It’s somewhat difficult to pinpoint any glaring flaws as the film excellently ties in any loose ends before the credits roll. The only genuine flaw is the somewhat abrupt climax, as it feels like it’s coming out of nowhere. And of course, classic cliches are likely to be noticed, but seeing as it’s a children’s film, it’s impressive how little cliches are featured. Overall, Chris Williams, The Sea Beast is by far one of the best animated films to have come out this year. Not only will it entertain many children seeking a story involving entrancing creativity, but it should satisfy people of all ages could potentially enjoy this animated gem. Praise should be given to the filmmakers that care about the craft rather than the ones trying to make a quick buck, and the crew behind this competently crafted film shall receive it.