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‘The Sea Beast’ review: Animated adventure stakes Oscar claim

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With “The Sea Beast,” Netflix throws its harpoon at a 2023 Oscar nomination for animated function.

Whereas the movie’s dialogue and characters aren’t precisely distinctive, its visuals are exceptional and it’s truly about one thing. It’s a ripping yarn, a gorgeously rendered kaiju journey on the excessive seas that makes use of fantasy to ask pertinent questions concerning the tales we imagine, and who advantages from that perception.

Viewers are plunged within the deep finish with an immersive opening sequence depicting the aftermath of a ship’s destruction. We’re in a world of picket vessels at warfare with monsters; an oceanside kingdom has been sustained largely by a category of “hunters” whose job it’s to rid the ocean lanes of those large creatures.

That is adopted by a clunky little bit of exposition introducing Maisie (voiced by Zaris-Angel Hator), a younger orphan who idolizes hunters, endlessly reads about them, and may’t wait to change into one. We all know the place that’s going. We meet Jacob (voiced by Karl Urban), saved from a sea monster assault as a toddler and now a Strapping Younger Man and mighty hunter himself. Jacob has been raised by the best of the hunters, Captain Crow (Jared Harris) and his trusty first mate, Sarah Sharpe (Marianne Jean-Baptiste); he’s now in line for the captaincy of their ship, the Inevitable. Till then, Crow’s their captain, a hab-itual stalker of probably the most storied of the behemoths: His private white whale is known as “The Crimson Bluster.”

A giant green monster with a hard shell and tentacles attacks a wooden ship in the animated "The Sea Beast."

“Brickleback and the Inevitable” will not be an alternate rock band, however a good description of the monster and the ship, respectively, engaged in fight on this scene from Netflix’s animated function “The Sea Beast.”

(Netflix)

Jacob and Maisie’s paths will cross and the 2 will face probably the most fearsome creatures the ocean has to supply, gathering vital truths alongside the way in which.

“Sea Beast” succeeds handily as a monster-fighting journey with thrilling battle scenes — it’s much less “Master and Commander” than large monster film, à la Godzilla), with titanic creatures doing their factor and people studying classes of their devastating wake.

These people, sadly, have a tendency to not be significantly memorable. Jacob, as an illustration, isn’t as charming or, ahem, animated as nearly any live-action efficiency by City (recently of “The Boys” and “Thor: Ragnarok”).

A young girl befriends a very cute, little, blue monster in the animated feature "The Sea Beast."

Not all monsters are scary — Maisie (voiced by Zaris-Angel Hator) makes a buddy in “The Sea Beast.”

(Netflix)

Nonetheless, the monsters are marvelously crafted. These meant to be menacing are. These meant to be cute very a lot are. One way or the other, the restricted facial expressions afforded them converse volumes. Viewers will keep in mind the 2 major “beasts,” actually and can in all probability be wowed by the savage leviathan assaults.

Co-written (with Nell Benjamin) and directed by Chris Williams (“Moana,” “Big Hero 6”), what “The Sea Beast” lacks in glowing dialogue or hilarity on the excessive seas is greater than made up for by its lovely, detailed textures and wealthy cinematography. There are pictures with epic sweep and downtime moments which might be casually ornate. Lighting and shade successfully create ambiance. The underwater sequences are arresting. It’s the sort of achievement prone to be remembered at awards time.

Driving all of it is a lesson not sometimes among the many choices from major-studio animation’s Large Bag of Morals. Whereas some could dismiss it, the movie’s fathoms are deeper, diving for one thing fascinating to share with youngsters (or entrenched adults): What are the roots of conventional hatreds? Are they, and their violent penalties, “inevitable”? It nudges viewers to rethink beliefs based mostly on tales fairly than experiences and logic. Who tells these tales? What’s their agenda?

Whereas “The Sea Beast” makes its mark with motion, creatures and feats of extraordinary animation, it leaves viewers with a nagging thought: “Perhaps you generally is a hero and nonetheless be unsuitable.”

‘The Sea Beast’

Rated: PG, for motion, violence and a few language
Working time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Taking part in: Obtainable Friday on Netflix