First of all, I can’t be the only one who was excited for this movie purposely because of Idris Elba. My expectations were so high but Alas!
Anyway, Dr Nate Samuels (played by Idris Elba) is the widowed father of two teenage girls who’s keen on the idea of taking his daughters back to their African roots, so they head to a South African nature reserve to see old family friend, Martin (Sharlto Copley). Within a day, however, the family holiday goes terribly wrong. A string of dead bodies accompanied by lion tracks tells Martin that not only is a man-eating lion on the loose, but the lion isn’t interested in eating at all. Therefore, it can mean but one thing – the lion is looking for revenge after poachers murdered its pride.
The characters are straightforward, the story is easy to follow, and the audience knows it’s in for a series of well-timed jump-scares. We all know the characters aren’t going to follow the rules, after all. In fact, the most abused line in the film is: “Stay here!” which nobody does. Meredith (Nate’s oldest daughter) for example, why wouldn’t she listen?, if the goal was to annoy the audience, she surely achieved that.
The pacing, at least, is solid. Not one scene felt like it overstayed its welcome, and you luckily don’t have to wait too long to see the lion itself. However, its slim 93-minute runtime isn’t always a good thing, as certain aspects of Beast could’ve benefited from expansion. In particular, we know the death of the Samuels’ matriarch had a massive impact on both the family and the events of the film, but we don’t get a ton of backstory on her other than the basics that help move the plot needle forward in the broadest of fashions. There are no scenes – not even flashbacks – with the wife and mother before her death, while it is clear the family misses her immensely. There are certainly hints that Elba’s character had a strained relationship with her before she passed, but we don’t see any of that on-screen. Instead, it’s delivered in a few dialogue exchanges that provide a little context but not enough to make anyone really care for this grieving family. Even just a flashback or two would have gone a long way for emotional investment in the story.
The plot sails along pretty much exactly as you might expect, with a final showdown, yes, as promised in the trailer, Idris Elba really does straight-up punch a lion in the face. To be honest, I did expect him to go all in on the lion, it was instead the opposite.
My favorite part was probably when Nate was kicking and fighting off the lion while under the truck, with the daughter inside it.