The Monster of the Seas, review: a hole in the water for Chris Williams

The Monster of the Seas, review: a hole in the water for Chris Williams

The Monster of the Seas, review

With the arrival of Baymax! on Disney Plus, Big Hero 6 fans are back on track. Chris Williams, director of that 2014 masterpiece, decides to delight the audience with a new animated film dedicated to water and summer. The Monster of the Seas will be available on Netflix starting July 8, 2022. A story of monsters and pirates will be the protagonist of an adventure that will truly be up to its creator?

The Monster of the Seas: there is dryness of news

In a distant land, humans coexist without peace with a myriad of sea monsters. Pirates and hunters sail the waters to defeat these fearsome creatures. On board the Inevitable, Captain Crox and his crew are on the trail of the Fury, the most dangerous monster in the world, under commission from the King and Queen but also for personal gain. Jacob Holland, a famous hunter, will donate his commitment to the capture. But when a little orphan, Maisie Brumble, sneaks onto the Inevitable, not everything will go exactly according to plan.

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A hole in the water for Chris Williams

Wanting to overlook the predictable message, one could hope for a different, new tale. But The Monster of the Seas is also a great cauldron of classic plots: revealed a lietmotiv reminiscent of the spasmodic hunt in Moby Dick by Herman Melville, we witness characters swallowed by a large marine creature (Pinocchio) or a voodoo priestess who helps the Captain (Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean). A Disney inspiration perhaps also dictated by Chris Williams' past. Mulan (1998), The Emperor's New Groove (2000), Koda, brother bear (2003), Bolt - A four-legged hero (2008), Ocania (2016): these are just some of the works to which he donated his film script. Extraordinary classics which, evidently, are not remotely reachable.

Jacob Holland and Maisie Brumble (Netflix)
The background of the main characters is reduced to the bone and crystallized in the past, without any real repercussion on the present. Only Jacob has a small character development, which is also excessively predictable. The hunter and little Maisie are the protagonists who capture almost all of the focus. Others, which would have aroused a lot of interest, have an almost minimal presence on the scene and it is a real shame. Of course, some secondaries have a draft of psychological characterization and differentiation, but perhaps that is not enough.

The animation of The Monster of the Seas

If Chris William's story leaves a little to desire and did not fully hit the mark, it must be said that at the level of animation (in CGI by Netflix Animation) The Monster of the Seas finds its small strength. Again, a certain resemblance to Disney returns; the character design is strikingly similar. Not all of them, but some figures are quite differentiated not only in psychology but also in their outward appearance. We have chosen to diversify the characters a lot according to the different ethnicity, and some details such as the rendering of the hair are certainly accurate and appreciated.

The atmosphere is exactly what a film about pirates should give: life on board, the rules of the Code, the references to terminology that cinema has always highlighted with enthusiasm. Not to mention Mark Mancina's soundtrack, capable of transporting the viewer into this world that will always be captivating for the public.

In conclusion

The Monster of the Seas is a film that focuses much more on the container than on the content, on aesthetic and technical virtuosity and less on a story that, with certain assumptions, could have given the public much more. It is a shame to see how a personality like Chris Williams has created a product that, all in all, is nowhere near comparable to its predecessors for Disney. A small hole in the water that can only count on an intriguing atmosphere and a beautiful message, albeit told with carelessness.

'The Sea Beast' is a swashbuckling spectacle with deep meaning

Star Rating:

Set in a fictional world where giant monsters roam the seas, the great celebrities of the time are their sea-faring hunters, none more famous than Jacob Holland (Karl Urban). But when a mischievous orphan by the name of Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator) manages to find her way onto his ship, the two end up setting off on an epic adventure of new perspectives, rewriting the history books as they go.

Animated children's films usually follow a predictable narrative. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll come away with that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. 'The Sea Beast' does all of those things, but its predictable story is never an issue. The story is told in such a beautiful and engaging way, that the movie feels as complete and rounded as possible. With a strong voice cast and incredibly colourful animation to back it up, 'The Sea Beast' is a roaring success for Netflix and for animated films in general.

The main theme running throughout the film is that of historical accuracy. Maisie, a young orphan with adventure burning inside her, dreams of sailing the high seas, just like her late parents did, exploring the unknown and battling leviathans, like those in her books. She reads of larger-than-life sea captains, such as Captain Crow (brilliantly voiced by Jared Harris) and his second in command, Holland.

These monster-hunters do exactly as they say on the tin. They simply rid the world of evil beasts and claim the bounties they deserve for freeing the people of harm. They follow an age-old code and never question their morals. But, it's never that simple, is it?

When Maisie and Jacob find themselves in the clutches of the legendary beast, the Red Bluster, the two find out that these creatures have more to them then the stories tell.

The trio of Maisie, Jacob and Captain Crow all experience crises of identity as the worlds that they thought they knew come crashing down around them. The way in which they all react differently is what makes the movie so endearing. Do you stick to your (literal) guns? Or do you challenge the narrative you've been fed? It's never an easy decision, but 'The Sea Beast' manages to handle it succinctly through the different character's lenses and poses questions that both adults and children can mull over.

As well as the excellent main cast, supporting characters are all voiced to an equally high level. However, Kathy Burke's brief cameo as the witch-like Gwen Batterbie stands out tall. This reviewer wishes she was given much more screen time (or a potential spinoff?).

Marianne Jean Baptiste also gives a rousing performance as the frighteningly staunch Sarah Sharpe, too. It's amazing to think what two actors can do with so few lines throughout a film.

The animation is beautiful on the main, however there are some areas that feel a little less well-rendered. One big issue in particular is the Red Bluster itself, or 'Red' as she becomes affectionately known. It's a difficult task to try and make a creature both frightening and loveable at the same time, and the beast's smooth features feel like a product of 'less is more' thinking. But in comparison to other big beasties throughout the film, 'Red' sticks out like a sore thumb.

Yet, these are small complaints and nit-picking at what is all together a gorgeous-looking film. As the views of the deep seas astound and colours dance on screen, while a group of brilliant voice actors take you on a journey of discovery, you'll hope this is just the first chapter of a rewritten history book.

'The Sea Beast' is available on Netflix on Friday, July 8.

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