Wondering what to watch? Lots of action and adventure streaming this week, as several hit releases make their way to various platforms as the summer season expands from the multiplex to the living room. Chief among these releases is Netflix Animation’s latest in the form of The beast from the seaa new original film from Chris Williams, best known for co-directing Disney Animation’s Moana.
The beast from the sea is just as maritime, but with some twists of its own and the heart to match. Amid what feels like a dearth of great films featuring galleons, with its incredible rendition of sea battles with mythical monsters, this looks like a real treat.
Read more: All the news on Disney+ in July
Meanwhile, amid what appears to be a campaign to saturate the web with sneaky set photos of Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie Barbie, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) returns and the rotunda makes its way to Prime Video, while the historical romantic drama Dangerous Liaisons comes to iPlayer.
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The beast from the sea (2022)-Netflix
Chris Williams’ The beast from the sea is new, but it looks familiar. Somewhat close in theme and structure to How to train your dragoncentered on an ongoing conflict with fantastical wildlife that changes due to a new understanding of the exact nature of the things humans hunt for revenge.
Red, or so the sea creature has come to be called, is like a softer Toothless, but the size of a kaiju, even resembling it in elegant appearance and feline personality. In the representation of the bond that forms between man and the mythical creature The beast from the sea could be described as How to train your dragon Going through Moana (which Chris Williams co-directed), Moby-Dick and King Kongas well as the adventure stories that Williams loved in his youth.
Read more: Brand new on Netflix in July
Photorealism is no substitute for style, and The beast from the sea feels in places like proof of that. In others it’s a real looker, bathed in deep red and purple hues to contrast with its naturalistic palette on the water, or the resplendent gold and green of Royal Navy headquarters, its ornate architecture arranged in the center of an impressive island town.
Watch a trailer for The beast from the sea
But especially in its early days, it falls into the contemporary trap of 3DCG animated films which privilege and fetishize realistic textures in hair, water and backgrounds but retain cartoonish character models and designs, and a almost rubbery texture to the skin of their character, victim of the lighting. calibrated to show the former rather than the latter. There is an extreme conflict between the reality of water and hair and, well, everything else.
On the other hand, these cartoons pack a lot of character, especially when they personify the down-to-earth roughness of the crew of the inevitable versus the pampered privilege of the royals who command them and demand that they risk their lives. The problem is reconciling the gap, with the lighting making the character’s skin appear abnormally smooth compared to the intentional roughness of everything else.
That said, it’s hard to stop watching Karl Urban’s lavish hair wobble every time he speaks, or reveling in the crispy character design of a sea dog wearing an eye patch voiced by Jared Harris (whose galleon bonafides include the excellent Terror). The accents and seafaring dialect of said cast members are a bit stringy and the dialogue a little unnatural as a result, but it’s charming regardless. Much like the rest of the film’s most glaring flaws, it’s masked by charm and even sheer kinetics, as the traveling camera and amusing use of space on the boat feels both expansive and claustrophobic when the situation calls for it, which becomes especially exciting when combined with fun shot choices and energetic, fast-paced editing.
Read more: All new on Paramount+ in July
The story itself is fun, delighting in its maritime adventure and salty dialogue. The actual staging of the action is dynamic and thrilling, even if the characters suffer under the film’s harsh light. It’s especially nice in how much fun it has with the scale, which might be the main difference between it and the seafaring family tale of William’s previous work.
Also new on Netflix: Viceroy’s House (2017)
Birds of prey (2020) – First video
With the impending overexposure of behind-the-scenes photos from the set of Greta Gerwig Barbie, Margot Robbie is probably on a lot of people’s minds right now. Having been somewhat stuck in various successful roles, especially in the gruesome suicide squad (later revisited by James Gunn in his sequel The Suicide Squad…not confusing at all).
Read more: All new on Prime Video in July
Following this, however, came Birds of prey, an opportunity for Robbie to cement his take on the Harley Quinn character and have some more fun with it. Also known by its longer and somewhat more obnoxious title Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn)Cathy Yan and Robbie’s collaboration gave Warner Bros. an increasingly inflated list of films based on DC Comics, borrowing some style from Hong Kong action movies and other American interpretations of them.
Watch: Margot Robbie talks to Yahoo about Birds of prey
Not only does it have a real sense of place, but surprisingly intricate and punchy fight scenes, with more than a touch of John Wick’s long distant takes and intricate choreography via Hong Kong action movies, with a twist Looney Tunes gymnastics and outrageous accessories for good measure.
Yan’s movie isn’t too concerned with making a big statement or rising above other comic book movies. Instead, it leans toward cheerful grossness and vivid stylization through its opulent setting and costume design. He sometimes overdoes it, whether in slow motion, voiceover, musical cues that range from bizarre and breathless covers of 80s anthems to fairly obvious needle drops.
Still, Birds of prey the gleeful excess is part of the point, and while the mileage varies for some, for this writer, it’s still a pretty good time.
Also on Prime: The breakfast club (1985), At the door of eternity (2018)
Dangerous Liaisons (1988) – BBC iPlayer
Stephen Frear’s 18th century drama about seductive and scheming French aristocrats has lost none of its luster over time.
From a screenplay by Christopher Hampton, based on his 1985 play Dangerous relationships, he succeeds the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close in one of his finest roles). She asks her ex-lover the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich, who might be shocking as an object of love for the contemporary viewer) to seduce the young and virgin future wife of the Comte de Bastide (another ex-lover of hers) in an act of revenge, in exchange for one last night with her.
Of course, the scheme falls apart as a web of miscellaneous affairs begins, part of the fun as Frears weaves an alluring web of deception.
Also on iPlayer: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Happy ending (2017)