The Sea Beast

Where I Watched It: Netflix

English audio Description provided By: International Digital Center

Written By: Liz Gutman

Narrated By: Jamie Lemcheck

Ahoy! Netflix be lookin’ for all ye land lubbers, to take up arms against a dangerous new threat. no, it’s not a Sea Beast. It’s looking at a popular film, and figuring out how to make a new one that is close enough to the original formula that it works, but different enough that it is its own thing. Thus, Netflix has created How To Train your Sea Beast. inspired by How To Train your Dragon would be an incredibly kind statement to make to this film. You have a coastal community somewhere in Europe where everyone has accents, and traditions, and it’s not set in modern times. the main character is a youngster, who ends up befriending the title character, that is something her community fear and seeks to destroy, until this one child makes an unexpected connection, and changes the hearts and minds of all these war mongers.

in a literal nutshell. the funny thing is that the team behind The Sea Beast wasn’t looking to make some generic and forgettable straight-to-streaming rehash made on the cheap. There’s a lot of love in the story creation and execution, with enough little changes to make The Sea Beast its own thing, and possibly (and likely) its own franchise.

Example, Jacob (Karl urban) was an orphan too, but has now grown up to be the fiercest warrior on the main ship of the story, The inevitable. The Captain (Jared Harris) rescued him, and thinks of him as his son, and so there’s this nice orphan parallel where Jacob believes this is his life, and one day he’ll be captain, but also this girl stumbles into his path, much like he did to the Captain, wanting the same thing. She was orphaned because her parents were hunters, and that’s all she’s ever wanted to be.

Of course, the villains of the film are so obviously villains. We don’t need Scooby Doo and the mystery Machine to unearth whose behind the dastardly deeds. But, as the film is mostly about this bonding relationship, learning more about these creatures, and the two characters in the middle trying to figure out what the right thing to do is, and how to do it, we have our own emotional connections to this story. In the end, no matter how close to another franchise this may be, it hit all the right notes on its own, while building it’s own (albeit extremely similar) world.

It’s not quite on the level of How to Train Your Dragon, which remains the better of the franchises, but I do believe this might be the first serious contender for a Best Animated Feature slot at this years Oscars. This year has been a bit of a mixed bag for animation, with no real strong contenders, and this feels oddly like the most likely right now.

The Blind Perspective: The team created a rich narration for an animated film that i understand is actually well done visually. We got several solid descriptions of various beasts, not to mention in depth accounts of the battle sequences. It was a very nice description, and the narrator’s voice is perfect for a film largely aimed at families and kids.

Final Thoughts: It won’t be in my top 10 for the year, that’s for sure. But, it might be in my top Animated list at the end of the year. And for a film I had no idea was coming, especially an animated feature from Netflix (who previously gave me the walking turd that is Marmaduke), it came as a surprise. A very pleasant surprise.

Final Grade: A-

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