In Review

The Sea Beast: a ‘visually sumptuous’ animation with ‘family-friendly humour’

The story follows Maisie on her hunt for the sea monsters that may have killed her parents

The Sea Beast was one of the last features to be completed by Netflix’s animation branch before it was “dramatically scaled back” as a result of falling subscriber numbers, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. “Thank goodness it got out before the cuts bit.”

Our heroine is Maisie (voiced by the British actress Zaris-Angel Hator), a plucky orphan who stows away on a ship in order to join the hunt for the sea monsters that may have killed her parents. When Maisie ends up befriending a monster, however, she starts to doubt her “long-held heroes-versus-monsters worldview”.

The film wears its influences on its sleeve: its “Godzilla-sized” beasts, for instance, could be straight out of How to Train Your Dragon; but for “sheer energy and invention, it more than holds its own, and boasts action scenes whose wit, vibrancy and gracefulness make Lightyear look low on batteries”.

I liked it enormously, said Leslie Felperin in The Guardian. Directed by Chris Williams, a Disney veteran who co-directed Big Hero 6 (2014), the film achieves the perfect balance “between rollicking action scenes, the inevitable didactic anti-hunting message about respecting other species’ right to exist and family-friendly humour”. It’s a pity the monsters look “oddly bland”, but the animation is mostly “visually sumptuous”, and the story will surely delight “fans of girl-positive cartooning”.

Leaving aside “a few slightly pantomime-voice performances”, I found it rousing and “immensely enjoyable”, said Wendy Ide in The Observer. The fictional maritime kingdom has been realised “with an almost tactile level of detail”; the film will be briefly in cinemas before being streamed on Netflix, and it’s worth seeking it out “on a monster-size screen” if you can.

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