Starring: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Iyana Halley, Leah Jeffries
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
With a movie like Beast, one doesn’t expect much. As long as it delivers decent thrills, solid tension, and Idris Elba punching a lion in the face, it has done its job. On that front, Beast certainly succeeds. Sure, the dialogue can be groan-worthy, and the angry daughter trope is a bit forced (and wholly unnecessary), but with several well-done tracking shots and a picturesque South African landscape, the direction and cinematography are better than they need to be for a movie like this. Plus, you get Idris Elba literally punching a lion during a climax that is unexpectedly visceral. Overall, a pleasant surprise.
Despite solid visual effects and some impressive long shots, I found myself underwhelmed by Beast, even as a lean creature feature with some genuinely tense sequences. It’s not as though the film lacks quality where it counts – Idris Elba is very good, as is Sharlto Copley – but the way it’s set up positions our protagonists merely as collateral damage in a just war against true villainy. So, as much fun as it is watching Idris Elba punch a lion in the face, the lion is ultimately who you root for, and some truly bad expository dialogue brings the film down substantially.