Your enjoyment of Beast will largely boil down to whether the idea of Idris Elba thunderously punching a lion repeatedly in the face sounds like popcorn munching glee or utterly stupid.
Written by Jack Ransom / August 25, 2022
Beast sees recently widowed Dr. Nate Daniels (Idris Elba) and his two teenage daughters travel to a South African game reserve managed by Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley), an old family friend and wildlife biologist. However, this quickly turns into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion, a survivor of bloodthirsty poachers, begins stalking them.
It’s always a welcome sight when a glorified big budget B-Movie arrives on the screen, especially when it comes to creature features. With 2019’s badass reptilian gem Crawl and the many toothed blockbuster hit The Meg being the most recent examples of how to do this right.
Clocking in at a gloriously tight 90 minutes, Beast quickly ticks off the fractured family cliches right off the bat. Sure, they are rampantly generic and their ‘arcs’ go exactly where you would expect, but they are engaging enough to be invested to the point that you don’t want them to be turned into cat food. After this first act establishment the film kicks into gear as a taught survival thriller that delivers exactly what you expect (for better and worst). Beast finds a nice rhythm and ramps up the tension effectively throughout, but there is no denying the abundantly stupid decisions, a lack of substance overall and an aura of repetition to the proceedings as well as your suspension of disbelief being put through the ringer.
The CGI work for the feline equivalent of Jason Voorhees is surprisingly very impressive and clearly was where the budget was substantially utilised. It is a relentless force of nature and delivers plenty of bloody tooth and claw heavy carnage. From massacring poachers, surviving a ball of fire to the face and taking on Elba in paw to hand combat, there are a smattering of undeniably grin inducing moments here, though as solid as these are, there isn’t anything outright standout on display. The utilisation of long takes and tracking shots during the action scenes is a refreshing change of pace and director Baltasar Kormáku’s choice to implement these frequently into dialogue and non-action sequences keeps them flowing nicely.
As previously mentioned the characters aren’t anything to write home about but the performances are enthusiastic enough to carry them. Idris Elba’s fleeting American accent aside, he carries the film with sincerity despite the material. Sharlto Copley is always a welcome sight to see in a feature and he delivers exactly the role you’d expect here. Lastly Leah Jeffries and Iyana Halley both have believable sisterly chemistry.
Beast is the definition of disposable ‘turn your brain off’ entertainment. Boasting bursts of visceral, well choreographed big cat chaos, bolstered by impressive CGI work and committed performances, it makes the film worth checking out if you are in the mood for B-movie silliness. However, in terms of the screenplay, memorable characters and just all round substance the film isn’t going to be sweeping any awards.