Baltasar Kormàkur is one of those directors that REALLY enjoys stretching reality for the sake of the cinematic experience. Looking at his resume, films like “Contraband,” “2 Guns,” and “The Sea” there are those that would see his choices as a bit too extreme to try to entertain an audience. For those that want to hold him accountable for these types of things, go ahead and avoid “Beast”. For the rest, let’s keep going…
Dr. Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) has taken his two daughters, Norah (Leah Jeffries) and Meredith (Iyana Halley), to South Africa on vacation as they heal as a family to meet up with his old friend Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley). As part of their experience, Martin takes them on a tour of a nature preserve that is not normally available to the general public. In doing so, they find themselves in a fight for survival as they are hunted by a rogue lion on a revenge mission after its pride is slaughtered by poachers.
Anyone familiar with our little show may see my name in the title of this and be a bit confused as this type of film is not normally in my wheelhouse. I still decided to give this one a try because it’s Idris Elba fighting a lion, and that’s what I got. There is very little gore or on-screen violence here (even the gore is enough to give the audience what they need to know without being over-the-top), and even the jump scares are well enough telegraphed that I could handle it. The audience that I screened this film with was fully engaged the entire hour-and-a-half that “Beast” runs, and I honestly found myself right there with them. There is a level of predictability to this that was fully acceptable to me as I was just able to let things go and enjoy the ride. The way Meredith and Norah are written got to be a bit abrasive to me at times, but that was simply part of keeping the story moving.
The visual effects here are also above average with only a few shots where I could tell that things looked a bit off. I am constantly amazed at how far things have come to the point where a film whose budget was around $36 million where just a few years ago this would be a fraction of the visual budget alone, and this film works well within the money spent. Simply put, “Beast” is a fun way to spend a couple of hours, but do so with a group of people to have the best experience. I’m not saying it MUST be seen in a theater, but it wouldn’t hurt.