The Movie Guru: “The Sea Beast” a delight for all ages, but “Luck” loses on visuals
The Sea Beast (Netflix)
If you have any love for seafaring adventures, you need to see “The Sea Beast.”
There is no age restriction on this statement. Yes, the movie is animated, but it’s also every bit as good as the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. There’s genuinely gripping adventure, tender emotional moments, and great world-building, all delivered in gorgeous animation. Live action has failed to give us a truly epic adventure movie these past several years, but thankfully “The Sea Beast” has effortlessly stepped in to solve that problem.
The movie is set in a world where sailors take to the sea to hunt down huge monsters who have terrorized ships for generations. Jacob has spent his life as one of these sailors, having been rescued from a shipwreck as a child, while Maisie is a young orphan who’s just run away to sea. When the two get caught up in a face-off with the most legendary sea-monster out there, they realize that there’s a lot more to the story than they’d ever heard.
Because of the animation, there’s no skimping when it comes to the oceanic battles, the desperate face-offs, or the close brushes with death. This is the kind of movie you need to watch on the biggest-screen TV you have, and if you end up gripping the arm of your loveseat a little too tightly then that’s perfectly understandable. You hope you know how the story will end, but there are more than a few moments where you won’t be sure.
The animation also comes through in the characters, delivering a main cast that’s both beautifully varied and wonderfully emotive. You feel the moments between the characters as deeply as if it was live-action, and there’s a wonderful physicality that puts you right in the moment. An excellent voice cast, with Karl Urban as Jacob, Zaris-Angel Hator as Maisie and Jared Harris as Captain Crow, only deepens the experience.
Seriously, don’t miss out. This may very well be the movie you’ve been waiting for.
Grade: Four Stars
Luck (Apple TV+)
The Disney princess animation style has escaped containment.
Evidence of that can be seen in “Luck,” a perfectly nice animated movie that would be even nicer if its lead character wasn’t quite so perfect-looking. Supposedly an 18-year-old orphan who’s been plagued by lifelong bad luck, the movie’s heroine has the standard delicately pointed beauty that’s become standard on Disney princesses for the last several years. She’s ethereally pretty and graceful even when she’s having a pratfall, and it robs the movie of a lot of the gritty charm that could have moved it from good to great.
The story focuses on Sam, a young woman with cosmically bad luck who just aged out of a group home. When she runs into a strange cat and accidentally acquires a lucky coin, she ends up in the realm of Luck. Can she change her luck and that of a little girl she cares about, or will she and her new friend end up being exiled to the realm of Bad Luck forever?
It’s a perfectly solid “girl gets lost in a magical world” animated movie, and Simon Pegg does a perfectly charming job as Bob the talking cat. The story even tries to embrace the messiness of life, which is something we all need.
If only the movie’s look had been a little more willing to embrace that same kind of messiness.
Grade: Two stars
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.