6 October 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
A journey back to the sea has rarely been this bland
When it comes to films about fish, Pixar's 'Finding Nemo' (which 'Back to the Sea' has been inevitably and constantly compared to, perhaps not exactly fairly but understandably) is very hard to beat. As unfair as it is to say, the quality is vastly inferior here in 'Back to the Sea' in comparison and, after viewing it online, it's a pretty lame film on its own terms too.
There are worse animated films revolving around fish characters certainly, nothing is worse than one of the worst animated or ever films 'The Reef', 'Izzy's Way Home' and 'SeeFood' are also worse. 'Back to the Sea' however is one of the blandest and dullest, not in a while has a journey back to the sea been as bland, dull or easily forgettable as here. There is not much to recommend with 'Back to the Sea', there are a few heart-warming moments here and there and the soundtrack fits nicely and while not a truly memorable one doesn't make either mistake of being too intrusive or low-key.
Regarding the voice actors, they do their best, with Yuri Lowenthal, Tom Kenny, Mark Hamill (despite not being in it enough) and Tara Strong voicing their characters with a lot of spirit.
However, the story could have been better executed. It was potentially very identifiable but let down by dreary pacing, a paper-thin story structure, being too out-of-kilter dark in places (which muddled the tone) and too much of it not being particularly logical. Too much of it is very vague and the clarity factor is low, due to a lot of elements begging for an explanation that either are half-baked or never comes altogether. The parent-child relationship could have had a lot of heart but is not featured enough and is under-cooked dramatically. The voice cast did deserve much better, some make valiant efforts but others suffer from having very little to do.
Christian Slater is too hyperactive, and how can you have one of the best prolific voice actors there's been with one of the most distinctive voices ever Tim Curry and make him practically anonymous and almost like you can't tell who's he's voicing.
Further disadvantages are very flat humour, one has to search deeply for anything that resembles humour let alone find anything close to funny. Even flatter characters, there is not an interesting or likable one here and many are underused). An even more tedious and lacking in flavour script, with very little for children or adults alike in terms of engaging antics, humour, pathos or nods and references, so much so target audience and focus is called into question, especially with the jarringly darker elements tossed in. And a general lack of emotional attachment.
Animation-wise, 'Back to the Sea' is adequate at best, some of the backgrounds are nice and detailed. Most of it is uninspired though, with a very low-budget late-80s-early-90s look that makes one question when the film was actually made. Evident in some lifeless colours and less than smooth character designs. So not terrible or amateurish, but there is nothing in the animation quality that makes one leap out of their chair in amazement.
In conclusion, not a shipwreck, but as a lifelong animation fan to me this was very bland and dull. 3/10 Bethany Cox