No really…people are asking.
Beast is an entertaining, but rather predictable and average movie. Perfect, early-afternoon, matinee fair. The film exists somewhere in-between ‘Ghost in the Darkness’ and ‘Cujo’. It knows exactly what it is and makes no attempt to veer off that path. Doesn’t hurt either that it is a quick and concise 90-minutes. The quickness and simplicity allows it to have very few flaws, but ultimately this one will get lost in the mountains and mountains of television and film-content we now get subjected to week after week.
Charles Minor V. Simba
‘Beast’ is a very simplistic sort of monster-movie tale. Dr. Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) whose wife has recently passed away, decides to take his teenage daughters Norah & Meredith (Leah Jeffries & Iyana Halley) on a trip to South Africa to visit their mother’s homeland. More specifically they pay a visit to a game reserve managed by an old family friend named Martin (Sharlto Copley). Upon arriving, it is clear that Dr. Samuels is attempting to mend a fractured relationship with his daughters as well as make peace with the passing of a wife with whom he had separated shortly before she died.
To the movie’s credit, the simple story is very inviting and helps to draw you in quickly, even if it’s pretty derivative. It also helps that the acting in the film is solid. Elba, Jeffries, Halley & Copley all deliver convincing performances that don’t distract in any way…not typical for a creature-feature. Martin takes the family out the day after they arrive for a tour of the reserve, and shortly after things get hairy (cuz cats). Upon discovering a village that has clearly been attacked by something, they themselves become cornered by a lion; one whose pride has been wiped out by poachers and now seeks revenge. It sounds absurd, but the story actually seems to work in its execution. From here, you get your standard, “Man vs. Beast” popcorn fair as the Samuels’ and Martin fight for survival.
It’s a 2002 blockbuster, released 20 years too late.
The best way I could sum-up ‘Beast’ is to say it’s a plausible version of Jurassic Park. Instead of a T-Rex and corporate espionage, the villains are a big-cat and poachers…emphasis on the poachers. Director Baltasar Kormakur does a solid job of bringing this story to light without trying to swing for the fences. Save for some pretty rough CGI at the beginning, the movie uses technology very sparingly. Sure, the main kitty is 100% CGI, but lighting and camerawork down-play the distraction of that tremendously.
So I won’t sit here and knock ‘Beast’, because I really don’t have a good reason to do so. It’s a pretty decent movie. I would say that if ‘Beast’ had come out 15-20 years prior it would have been much more culturally relevant–if not celebrated. The theater I saw ‘Beast’ in boasted about 4 other people in it. Thanks to the heaps of content dumped on us every week, ‘Beast’ will get lost in the shuffle. My bet is that you’re going to maybe put this on while doing laundry in a few months. It has “on TNT in the backgorund while napping” written all over it.
VERDICT: ⅗ Stars. As much as I want lions to be back, this may not be the movie to do it.
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