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The Sea Beast (2022)
Hit the high seas.
Filmmaker(s): Chris Williams

In an era when terrifying beasts roamed the seas, monster hunters were celebrated heroes. None were more beloved than the great Jacob Holland. But when young Maisie Brumble stows away on his fabled ship, he's saddled with an unexpected ally. Together they embark on an epic journey into uncharted waters and make history.

The Sea Beast (2022)

Competent Navigation

I am seeing many complaints about the ‘wokeness’ of elements of this. I suppose that is just how America is put together now. Some large number of vocal folks will find lucid history not to their liking. For me, I find the modern reworking of tropes from Moby Dick and Treasure Island refreshing. But you cannot bank a movie on that.

What you can rely on for success is excellence in the craft. There is some serious excellence in how this is put together so far as visual storytelling. It lacks the visual novelty of ‘Spiderverse’, and the emotional depth of ‘Kubo’, but gosh is the storytelling great.

The only misstep that bothered me was the visit to the witch. Why is everything else twisted a bit from the convention, and only this is trite? There must have been some backstory or scenes to have it make more sense — and to set up the temporary nature of the drug.

Elsewhere, you’ve read my theory on “Ted’s Law’ where a film or story within is the same abstract distance as from the film to the viewer. I most recently saw this is in ‘Strange World’ where the animated movie had a comic book (more or less) within that introduced the characters. The visual and narrative ‘distance’ between the comic and film was equal to the distance between us (and what we expect in a realistic film) and the animated presentation.

Here, the dynamic is more subtle. The cartoon ‘movie within’ is literally the first half of the movie, and the actual movie is the last half where the first half is put into perspective. The link is the little girl’s reference to and sometimes reading of books which we discover are all lies.

The first half is the world internal to those books and the second half is about the fictions therein and some hint of why.

This is my first experience of a reverse fold. Usually the ‘film within’ is simpler, more cartoonish and abstract. Here it is the other way, even with the monster-boat fights. The monsters themselves are rendered in the second half as if they were parade balloons.

I believe this notion of folding as a direct entertainment is evolving quickly, and I’m glad of it.

Posted in 2023

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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