Director Chris Williams is someone who knows how to keep an audience at the edge of their seats. When he was at Walt Disney Animation Studios, he directed some very good animated films during their ongoing revival era including "Bolt" and "Big Hero 6", as well as co-directing "Moana" with the legendary John Musker and Ron Clements. If you need any more proof of how skilled he is, you need to look no further than his latest new animated film, "The Sea Beast". The latest new animated film to come out from Netflix is a film that I was quite looking forward to watching and ended up surprising me quite a bit. This is easily one of the best-animated films Netflix has released in quite a while that was produced by them and I loved it a lot.
For hundreds of years, giant sea beasts have caused havoc in the oceans and hunters have been trying to kill them so the oceans can be safe. One of these hunters is named Jacob Holland (Karl Urban), a hunter aboard the famed ship "The Inevitable" led by the famed Captain Crow (Jared Harris). The crew has been on the hunt for a rare sea monster known as the Red Bluster so they can continue traveling the shores and hunting sea beasts as a promise to the King and Queen. As they make their way for open water, the crew comes across a stowaway orphan girl named Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) who dreams of being with sea hunters that the crew decides to bring along, much to the disappointment of Jacob. While the crew manages to find the Red Bluster, it ends up taking Jacob and Maisie overboard before eventually dumping them on a deserted island. From there, the two try to figure out how to get home as Maisie and Jacob soon discover that the Red Bluster, whom Maisie names Red, and all sea beasts for that matter, might not be as deadly as they seem.
Based on his prior work at Walt Disney Animation Studios, I really expected Chris Williams to deliver another fantastic animated film with this and it did not disappoint. This film is easily one of the most exciting and adventurous animated films I've seen all year and it kept me on my toes while watching it. The story is filled with a lot of excitement that more than makes up for its familiar tone. The story is another film about a character discovering that the monsters they've been told about aren't as deadly as they seem and it does go through the beats that you expect. However, where this film differs from something like "How to Train Your Dragon" is the action sequences. This film has some of the best-animated action I've seen in a long time and it really keeps you on your toes and never gets dull for a second. Williams has stated he wanted to make a film that was an homage to Ray Harryhausen monster films he grew up with and he sure delivers. It starts as we see the Inevitable save a ship from being attacked by a sea monster and having to defend themselves and take down the beast as you'd think that the film would peak from there and can't top it. You'd be wrong. There are more exciting sequences where that came from and the film keeps topping them and topping them with every setpiece. One of my favorite sequences is when Red battles a purple crab-like monster with Jacob trying to save Maisie as she's on top of the beasts as they're battling. Even the tender moments where Maisie and Jacob realize that Red isn't as deadly as she seems and that the stories they've been told might be fabricated are very well done and play out naturally without feeling tired. It was very nice to see. I also admire that the film doesn't hold back as well as it really has some intense moments where characters get seriously hurt. It really surprised me, but in a good way. I think the only thing about the story that didn't work for me was a scene at the beginning of the film involving the King and Queen and the status of the Inevitable. It seems like the film would be setting up a conflict and a race against the clock as the monarchs tell the crew they're being replaced by a bigger ship and there's a race to find the monster for their future, but this ends up going nowhere and it felt very pointless to the story. It probably should've been cut out entirely. However, the rest of the story more than makes up for it.
As far as the animation goes, it is absolutely outstanding. This film is exceptionally gorgeous to look at and I could explore it for a while. The film was animated by Sony Pictures Imageworks, who has also provided animation for the films at Sony Pictures Animation, and they continue once again to bring their A-game to the table. There's a lot of beautiful scenery in this film from the cozy seaside towns, to the elaborate palace, the murky islands, and of course, the vivid ocean waters. This film has some of the best computer-animated water I've ever seen and it really looks so detailed and realistic. One of my favorite moments in the animation is where Red goes under the water and past giant jellyfish and above the remains of both monsters and ships. It was such a breathtaking scene. I also really admired the character designs, especially for the monsters that all looked distinct and quite cool. As far as the characters go, I really also enjoyed them. Maisie was easily my favorite character in the film. I was a bit worried about her character at first and thought she would be a little annoying, but fortunately, she's not. She's rather quite strong, smart, and resilient which made her quite fun to watch. It made her the perfect counterpart to Jacob, a sailor who's seen some horrific stuff at sea and I was quite glad the film didn't go with the obvious route of having Jacob and Maisie butting heads at first before becoming close. Their chemistry feels very well developed as we see him trying to protect her while also not talking down to her. I also did like some of the crew members on the Inevitable, but apart from Captain Crow, the film doesn't explore them as much as I wanted. However, the film is Jacob and Maisie's story so it doesn't bother me that much.
With that said, "The Sea Beast" is a terrific animated film from Netflix. The story has some amazing action and is quite intense without holding back, the animation is very beautiful and has some stunning imagery, and the characters are very fun and have some great chemistry. This is a very fun animated film from Netflix that I very highly recommend checking out. It's yet another exciting adventure from Chris Williams and a tale that will most certainly live on.