Sea Level

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Sea Level Movie Poster Image
Weak, poorly-plotted animated tale with scares, few laughs.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Polluting oceans and waterways threatens our planet. While the film places great value on friendship and loyalty, it also portrays bullying and tormenting others as more comic than hurtful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Humans are uniformly depicted as mean, dishonest, and insensitive to the environment. The only parental figure is abusive to his children and cruel to everyone around him. Pup, the little shark-hero, is well-intentioned, hard-working, and brave. Julius, a large shark, is a bully. He uses his size and power to intimidate and torment smaller fish, in spite of that, his character is intended to be likeable and funny.

Violence & Scariness

Scary, mutated sea creatures live in the murky depths of the sea with glowing eyes, eerie sounds, menacing movements; they unexpectedly appear and attack without provocation. A turtle struggles to escape from a plastic bag covering her head. Later she battles an evil serpent in a life-or-death struggle. The heroic fish are in danger from: a rapid-fire spear gun, careening vehicles, a giant hook, an army of mutant crabs, fire, and suffocation. A human father bellows, threatens, and hits his children (the blows are off camera; the sounds are heard).

Sexy Stuff

A father is verbally abusive to his boys: "idiots," "shut up," threatens with a throat-cutting hand gesture, "there'll be hell to pay."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that despite some bright, colorful animation, and a few appealing heroes, Sea Level is filled with dark images, eerie music, bullying used as humor, scarily-mutated sea creatures, an abusive human father, and characters constantly in fear for their lives. Viewers, especially young ones, will find the film's often disconnected structure and abrupt scene endings hard to follow. If Sea Level is meant as a humorous, cautionary tale about protecting the planet and its oceans, that message is as random and murky as the story itself and the few humorous sequences don't qualify it as watchable.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySouthern_mama November 27, 2020

Not appropriate for young children

This was so dark and disturbing for young kids. It depicts the issues in the ocean, killing sharks for their fins, a turtle almost dying because of a plastic ba... Continue reading
Adult Written byRie0AZ August 17, 2019

It's fine unless you're over protective.

I am a grandma. I wanted to check out what other people thought about this movie. We went ahead and started to watch it and are about Midway right now. Everythi... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byPupper123 December 31, 2019

Super funny but kind of a confusing story line

Lots of funny lines and scenes. My family could not stop laughing. You can get really engaged with the characters because all of them are well developed. It als... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old October 1, 2016


Once my sister and mom were awake, it was morning time, and they were having a little argument about what movie they wanted to watch. My sister obviosly wanted... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the animated SEA LEVEL, Poor Pup (voiced by Diong Chae Lian) is just a small bamboo shark who's discovered that his family's egg sacs have been taken by greedy poachers eager to command the shark fin market. Pup turns to his good friend Julius (Gavin Yap) to help him make a daring rescue. Unfortunately, Julius, a very big shark, is otherwise occupied. He's having too much fun tormenting the fish who wait on him fin-and-tail hoping he won't eat them. So Pup sets out on his own, making his way to land and humankind where he finds danger, treachery, adventure and, finally, the egg sacs! Meanwhile, back in the ocean, while a factory spews its ghastly refuse into the water, Pup's friends try to follow him. But it's not easy going for them, either. They have to fend off some mutant deep water monsters (a serpent and some very unpleasant insect-like crabs), some unusually ambitious chickens, and, what's more, face the likely prospect that they'll be unable to breathe when they reach the land. It takes some luck, some invention, and some fortitude, but finally, the loyal team brings everybody home.

Is it any good?

Interesting, quirky, sometimes beautiful animation cannot save this ocean tale run amok. Sea Level often switches from light and frothy to dark and murky, with many unpleasant scenes likely to disturb little and/or sensitive kids, and turn off any viewer who values continuity and logic. A scene with delightfully comic chickens interacting with Julius (in a funny water-filled space capsule) might be followed by a scene in which a diabolical father beats his kids. Pup's attempts to rescue his "family" are intercut with (more accurately, interrupted by) other characters in thinly-related crises that are rarely resolved.

The film suggests that a factory's unceasing dumping of sludge and junk are wreaking havoc on this ocean setting, but the action on the screen never clearly connects the dots to the mutants deep below the surface. Sea Level plunges through very choppy waters and the few funny scenes are not worth the effort it takes to stay on course.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the film's statement: "The whole ocean's gonna be dark." How did the filmmakers try to show the effects of the factory polluting the water? Look up the word "mutation" and think about the creatures who live in the deeps of Sea Level's ocean.

  • Did you laugh when Julius chased, frightened, and threatened to eat the other fish as a joke? Is bullying ever funny? Does someone who laughs at a bully become part of the problem? Why?

  • This film jumps around a lot both in story line and in tone -- sometimes its tone is light-hearted and funny; sometimes it's dark and scary. Is this confusing or did you find it easy to follow?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Themes & Topics

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