Friday, July 8, 2022

The Sea Beast (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: The Sea Beast (2022)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 1h 55min
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Netflix Animation, Netflix
Director: Chris Williams
Writers: Nell Benjamin, Chris Williams
Actors: Baraka May, Benjamin Plessala, Dan Stevens, Jared Harris, Karl Urban, Kathy Burke, Kaya McLean, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Zaris-Angel Hator
IMDb Blurb: When a young girl stows away on the ship of a legendary sea monster hunter, they launch an epic journey into uncharted waters - and make history to boot.

Cat’s Point of View:
Watching The Sea Beast felt like a reward that followed a few weeks of an intensely hectic schedule. Not even my exhaustion factor could have dulled my excitement and anticipation for this movie. The big question would be – did it live up to the hype?
Honestly, I wish I’d ranked The Sea Beast a little higher on my Top 20 Movies to Look Out for in July article this month. There wouldn’t have been a lot of wiggle room with all of the great stuff releasing this July, but I could have shuffled a little. The Sea Beast was just that good. Alas, hindsight and all that.

Regardless of where it landed on the list, The Sea Beast certainly delivered on all of my expectations for this high seas adventure.
The cast was amazing in bringing their roles to life. Jared Harris (Chernobyl, Carnival Row, Morbius) was the perfect grizzled sea captain, Karl Urban (Star Trek Beyond, Thor: Ragnarok, The Boys) brought depth to the hero monster-hunter Jacob, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Homecoming, Fatman, Boxing Day) embodied the tone of a badass female first mate. I wished Dan Stevens (The Guest, Blithe Spirit, Gaslit) could have had a slightly larger role here, however, Admiral Hornagold did bring an important element to the story. Last, but definitely not least, Zaris-Angel Hator (Black Earth Rising, The Midnight Gang, Morbius) is a star on the rise. Her heartfelt portrayal of Maisie took me back to my youth and my own flights of fantasy wishing I could join an epic adventure.

The story wove an intricate tale of humanity, honor, the cost of revenge, and a subtle warning about the dangers of propaganda. An ultra-simplified comparison would be to call The Sea Beast something along the lines of a How to Train Your Dragon (2010) of the sea.
I actually forgot for a little bit that I was watching a Netflix original animation and not something straight from Disney or the like. The animation was impeccable.
Overall, The Sea Beast took me on an epic journey and I enjoyed every minute of the ride. We will likely watch it again – probably very soon, in fact. Oh, and I did find out whether or not Maisie got to keep the little blue monster from the trailer. I’m not going to spoil it here, though. You’ll just need to go watch The Sea Beast, yourself to find out.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 93%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 95%
Metascore – 75%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.9/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Princess (2022)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: The Princess (2022)
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy
Length: 1h 34min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: 20th Century Studios, Original Film, Hulu, Altitude Film Entertainment, Disney+
Director: Le-Van Kiet
Writer:  Ben Lustig, Jake Thornton
Actors: Joey King, Olga Kurylenko, Antoni Davidov, Katelyn Rose Downey, Alex Reid, Ed Stoppard, Kristofer Kamiyasu, Dominic Cooper, Veronica Ngo, Allegra du Toit
Blurb from IMDb: When a strong-willed princess refuses to wed the cruel sociopath, she is kidnapped and locked in a remote tower of her father’s castle. With her vindictive suitor intent on taking her father’s throne, the princess must save the kingdom.

Selina’s Point of View:
I feel like The Princess was marketed wrong.
Although the trailer does do a good job of showcasing the truly fast-paced story and tons of action, it also plays up a comedy aspect that simply does not exist in the movie. They presented the bloody fight scenes with an upbeat song in a way that was reminiscent of the coming attractions for Thor: Ragnarok (2017).
It led me to believe I’d be watching something along the lines of an R-rated Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998). That is not what I got at all, and I think that’s why audiences are not connecting with it.
A good steak is a good steak, but it’s not a good pancake. If you serve someone something that’s completely different than what they expected, you’re setting it up for failure.
Although there is a line or two in The Princess that is meant to be funny, I wouldn’t ever sell it to someone as any kind of comedy. It is a pure fantasy action film with timely themes – especially with women in the USA being treated as breeding stock right now.
This is one of the most action-packed, fast-paced, films I’ve seen this year. And where it’s not perfect, it should be getting higher audience scores. The only reason I could see that it’s not, is because people are not getting what they were promised.

Despite that, the fight choreography was glorious. I was never pulled out of the excitement during a fight scene. I can’t imagine how physically taxing filming was. I need to give a ton of credit to the actors and stunt-people. I hope they all got to take a couple of weeks off after.
There was also minimal exposition. The writers had faith in the audience, and it paid off. It never felt like the story was pointing out the obvious, and there were no moments that felt a little too ‘convenient.’
Aside from that, there were a couple of tired tropes in use, and the setting could have been better. It felt like a comedy-style Robin Hood story would have fit better against the backdrop. If they had gone more of a Game of Thrones route for the settings, it would have really sold that gritty aspect. It could have taken the brutality to another, more heart-pounding, place. They just needed to fully commit.
Still, I could see myself throwing this on in the background while I play a game. Or even suggesting it to friends.
I just wish there wasn’t that problem of presentation vs. content. Reviews will be plagued by it.

Cat’s Point of View:
When I was putting together this month’s Top 20 Movies to Look Out For list, The Princess was a sure bet to fall in the top 10. The more I thought on it and re-watched the trailer, it steadily grew as a must-see until I was compelled to place it as my #4 pick.
The Princess was exactly the action movie that I needed.
Hulu really out-did themselves with this one.
The story jumped right in almost immediately with some absolutely brilliant fight choreography and didn’t let up until the end. There were a few small pauses here and there for story development, but The Princess was a wild ride consistently throughout. It earned its R-rating for the sheer level of brutality in the combat scenes. At the same time, it wasn’t too over-the-top and avoided being a gore-fest. It was so refreshing that the production wasn’t bogged down with a lot of exposition.

Joey King (Radium Girls, Slender Man, The In Between) kicked some serious butt with her performance and absolutely blew me away. I want to see her in more action roles like this now. She was 1,000% up for the task – and The Princess required a daunting level of physicality. She performed most of her own stunts.
Was The Princess a perfect movie? It wasn’t, but I didn’t care. I was thoroughly entertained and willing to forgive any minor foibles it might have had. Nothing really stood out screaming at me to even mention as a negative.
I would most definitely recommend The Princess for any action fan looking for a fun movie night in. Pop some popcorn, fire up Hulu on the biggest screen you’ve got, and buckle up for a good time.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 60%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 48%
Metascore –45%
Metacritic User Score – 5.8
IMDB Score – 5.5/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4.5/5
Movie Trailer: