a young girl with dark skin and dark curly hair holds up a cute blue sea creature with big black eyes
Courtesy Netflix

There’s probably enough to keep the under six (or so) set engaged in Netflix’s The Sea Beast, a sort of Moby Dick-meets-King Kong but with a far, far less interesting monster than either. The animated story (with screenplay by Chris Williams and Nell Benjamin; the former also directed) is fine: plucky orphan lass Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator) stows away, and epic adventure at sea ensues. In this case, we’re on a “hunting” vessel, part of a storied fleet that through the generations has been valiantly dedicated to eradicating the sea beasts who have been waging war on innocent humans since time immemorial. Or so the sacred texts of sealore say. When Maisie befriends the dreaded Red Bluster, she sets in motion a reckoning between humans and beasts, both in terms of their history and their futures as fellow creatures of the planet. To be sure, the movie encourages critical thinking in a way that makes sense to young minds. What nonetheless absolutely sinks The Sea Beast is the wildly underwhelming Red Bluster, the most magnificent and feared beast of them all. RB looks like an oversized bath toy and little more. If you’re going to title your movie The Sea Beast, you need to commit to a beast that earns its billing. Despite some snazzy water sequences, Red Bluster isn’t even worth third billing, let alone first and only. PG, 105 min.

Streaming on Netflix and playing in select theaters