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Chinese Audiences Agree: Netflix’s ‘The Sea Beast’ is Frightfully Unoriginal

The new adventure animation ‘The Sea Beast’ is supposedly too similar to DreamWorks’ hit 2010 production ‘How to Train Your Dragon’

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joanna-kay
Jul 19, 2022 2 mins read

Arguably the most ambitious digitally animated film that Netflix has ever taken on, The Sea Beast has made it onto the ‘Weekly Word-of-Mouth Movie List’ on Douban, a Chinese social networking site that shares similarities to IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. While the family-friendly film has scored reasonably well on the platform (7/10), a closer look at user comments reveals highly mixed reviews from the Sinosphere.


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The Sea Beast


Editor’s Note: Spoilers ahead; you’ve been warned!


The Sea Beast follows the story of Maisie, an adventurous little girl and a stowaway on the ship of a legendary sea monster hunter named Jacob Holland.


Holland isn’t too thrilled with his unsolicited guest, even less so when he and Maisie are swallowed whole by a giant sea monster called the Red Bluster and washed ashore on a deserted island called the Dregmorr.


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The Sea Beast


Maisie ends up befriending the Red Bluster, which she affectionally names Red, and a small, derpy creature called Blue. She soon realizes that sea monsters have simply been misunderstood by humans.


As Red ferries the trio back to the royal city, Jacob and Maisie begin to bond with one another (and the sea beast). Jacob gradually begins to side with Maisie’s beliefs and decides to renounce his ways and chosen profession.


By the end of the film, Jacob, Maisie, and Blue form a little tight-knit family and begin their lives anew in a world where sea monsters are finally left alone.


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The Sea Beast


While The Sea Beast has received mostly positive reviews in the United States, a few critics have pointed out the film’s similarities to DreamWorks’ 2010 film How to Train Your Dragon.


A Rotten Tomatoes user has lamented that the film is not quite “as impactful or as admirable as How To Train Your Dragon” but “does come quite close to emulating the same feeling of excitement when watching it.”


“It’s the whole How to Train Your Dragon without the laughs,” said another user. “This Netflix outing [is] something of a yawner.”


Meanwhile, in the Sinosphere, many have come down hard on the film for its lack of originality. In addition to comparing it to How to Train Your Dragon, Chinese netizens have name-dropped a whole slew of references.


“It’s How to Train Your Dragon told in the style of King Kong and with occasional inspiration from Moby Dick, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Pinocchio. There is a lack of world-building, and the happy ending comes too easy,” commented one user.


How to Train Your Dragon with elements of Pacific Rim? Originality is lacking,” reads another.


One user has even referred to The Sea Beast as the ‘aquatic edition’ of How to Train Your Dragon.


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How to Train Your Dragon


That being said, enjoyment is subjective, and every movie has its champions.


The Sea Beast touched me the same way as How to Train Your Dragon. [In the films,] the contradiction between man and nature is so genuine!” praised one Douban user, who gave the film a 5/5 star rating.


“The script of The Sea Beast can’t get rid of the shadow of How to Train Your Dragon, but it is enough for the boys at home,” wrote an appreciative parent, who gave the film 4/5 stars.


What are your thoughts on The Sea Beast? If you haven’t watched the film, you can stream it on Netflix now.


All images via IMDb

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