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10 Great Movies That Take Place At Sea

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Few things can invoke fear and curiosity like the oceans of the earth. As a result, the sea has been the backdrop of numerous Hollywood productions. The release of the massive successful James Cameron-directed Avatar: The Way of Water in 2022 has shown audiences how beautiful the ocean can be through fantastic visual effects.


RELATED: 10 Movies That Are Just Like James Cameron’s Avatar

However, not all movies set in the big blue have a dreamy look at the sea. Some films use the sea as a vessel for horror, others actions, and a few tales of extreme survival. The oceans have been settings for myriad great flicks since cinema’s dawn. From historical epics to tense horror stories, the variety of films set on the waves is as vast as the ocean itself.

10/10 Into The Blue Is An Entertaining Paul Walker and Jessica Alba Flick

2005

Of all the movies set on the ocean, 2005’s Into The Blue, on paper, doesn’t seem worth watching. The flick feels like a movie made in the early 2000s and is hardly perfect. Upon release, the movie failed to impress both critically and commercially, becoming nothing more than a bit of curiosity in the careers of everyone involved.

However, Into The Blue has an energy that makes the film fun despite its issues. Actors Paul Walker and Jessica Alba give great performances, and the filmmakers use the seas of the Bahamas to create several creative sequences. While there are better movies out there, Into The Blue is a blast to watch and showcases the talent of Walker and how missed he is in Hollywood today.

9/10 Battleship Potemkin Remains A Masterpiece From The Silent Era

1925

Some of the most engrossing and captivating films ever made were released in the silent era in the early to mid-1900s. While plenty of the best silent movies were made by Hollywood, countries outside the west have also been responsible for some of the most critical and influential silent films.

RELATED: 10 Best Silent Films Of All Time

1925’s Battleship Potemkin, released by Russia’s film industry, remains an essential piece of film history. Critics and experts have recognized the story of the mutiny aboard a Russian ship in 1905 as one of the greatest films ever made. Director Sergei Eisenstein’s (best known for being the father of the film “montage”) dramatized vision holds a place in the cinema hall of fame.

8/10 The Abyss Was One Of Director James Cameron’s Classic Hits

1989

Before releasing Avatar in 2009, director-writer James Cameron was the mind behind some of the greatest science fiction films. From Terminator 2: Judgment Day to Aliens, Cameron was unmatched in science fiction blockbuster storytelling. While he, unfortunately, has become inseparable from the visually spectacular but weakly written Avatar franchise, Cameron’s earlier work shouldn’t be forgotten.

One of the director’s best and most overlooked productions was 1989’s The Abyss. Before Avatar: The Way of Water, Cameron brought theatergoers into the Caribbean Sea in a story about people racing to find a sunken submarine only to discover something unknown. With great performances, pinpoint direction, and at the time, fantastic effects, The Abyss is an excellent sci-fi movie from one of the genres greatest minds.

7/10 Life Of Pi Succeeded Both Critically And Commercially

2012

Writer-director Ang Lee was responsible for some critically acclaimed films in the early 2000s. From Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Brokeback Mountain, Lee has managed to craft great movies across a wide range of dramas. While it’s subjective to say what Lee’s best film is, many people would say 2012’s Life of Pi is Lee’s magnum opus.

The story of a 16-year-old boy trapped on a small lifeboat with a Bengal tiger in the pacific ocean for 227 days was met with widespread acclaim when it was released. Grossing $609 million worldwide, the film was a massive hit at the box office. Life of Pi was also a star at the award scene, highlighted by eleven Oscar nominations and Lee winning best director.

6/10 Captain Phillips Told A Captivating Real-Life Tale Supported By A Fantastic Tom Hanks Performance

2013

In the history of people adventuring out through the oceans, numerous dangers have lurked in the sea. One of the most dangerous is pirates. While Hollywood might’ve created the image that pirates are swashbuckling pegged-leg rebels with parrots, modern pirates are a much more scary and dangerous threat. The real-life 2009 Maerek Alabama High jacking showed the dangers of sea life through the eyes of a survivor.

RELATED: 10 Horror Movies Inspired By Real-Life Events

Director Paul Greengrass (director of the Bourne Trilogy) helmed the film retelling of the story of Captain Phillips. Portrayed by Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips recounted the real-life tale of Phillips being held hostage by Somali pirates. With Greengrass’s excellent direction and a powerhouse Tom Hanks performance, Captain Phillips is a tense story of survival.

5/10 The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Is An Overlooked Gem From Director Wes Anderson

2004

Writer-director Wes Anderson is one of the unique filmmakers in the entire industry. His distinct camerawork, whacky storytelling, and oddball characters have become some of the most recognizable styles in cinema. There are numerous Wes Anderson works which have become rightfully remembered as classics. Anderson, like many greats, has a movie that is overlooked despite being as good as the rest of his filmography.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is one of Anderson’s best yet oddest productions of his career. Starring regular collaborator Wes Anderson collaborator Bill Murray, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is inspired by French diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau, to whom the film is dedicated. Full of charm, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is another must-watch Wes Anderson flick.

4/10 Moana Might Be One Of Disney’s Best Animated Offerings

2016

It’s no secret that Disney animated features have suffered in the 21st century. In the 90s, Disney pumped out classic after classic; however, since the turn of the millennium and especially post-2010s, it has become increasingly rare. However, in recent years, Disney has made a few spectacular animated flicks. One of Disney’s best offerings to date was 2016’s Moana.

Released in the era when Disney was determined to turn all their animated classics into soulless “live-action” remakes, Moana is an animated movie with a lot of heart. Everything from the visuals to the voice acting and music is on point. While Disney has released other great animated movies like Zootopia and Soul, Moana is an increasingly uncommon kind of film in modern Disney.

3/10 Jaws Became The First True Hollywood Summer Blockbuster

1975

The summer has long been the best time for studios to release their most significant films. The term “summer blockbuster” has been around for a while and has been used to describe massive releases which dominate the summer box office. Tracing the origin of the phrase goes back to 1975 when director Steven Spielberg released a little film called Jaws.

The known iconic movie coined the term summer blockbuster and has been considered a story of perseverance. The film about the deadly shark nicknamed “Bruce” is also famous for the highly rocky filming, which could be best summarized as “everything went wrong.” While Jaws may not 100% take place at sea, it’s easily one of the most famous ocean-centered movies ever made.

2/10 Das Boot Was One Of The Most Influential Films To Come Out Of Germany

1981

It’s easy for audiences to forget the massive difference between film budgets worldwide. It is standard for movie productions to have massive budgets in the west, but that isn’t the case in other countries. Yet, in 1979, Germany decided to go all in on an adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim’s 1973 German novel on his experiences aboard the German submarine U-96, Das Boot.

RELATED: 9 ’80s Movies That Are Due For A Remake

Written and directed by legendary German filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot was at the time one of the most expensive movies ever made in Germany. Thankfully for the filmmakers, Das Boot was a huge success earning $85 million (equivalent to $220 million in 2020) on an $18.5 million budget. Das Boot was also nominated for numerous awards, including six Academy Awards.

1/10 Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World Remains An Epic Sea-Faring Adventure Movie

2003

The Aubrey-Maturin Series was a series of historical novels focused on Captain Jack Aubrey, ship surgeon Stephen Maturin and their crew in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The series consists of 20 books, most of which has featured on the New York Times Best Seller List. As such, it was expected for Hollywood to attempt an adaptation of author Patrick O’Brian’s acclaimed works.

In 2003, Peter Weir directed and co-wrote Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, with Russell Crowe playing Aubrey and Paul Bettany playing Maturin. The film is essentially a story of one ship chasing another for two and a half hours, but it’s downright riveting. With masterful direction, writing, and acting, the movie is a must-watch.

RELATED: 10 Greatest Adventure Movies Of All Time

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