August 19th, 2022
STARRING: IDRIS ELBA, SHARLTO COPLEY, IYANA HALLEY, LEAH JEFFRIES
DIRECTED BY: BALTASAR KORMAKUR
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
It’s a giant blood thirsty lion versus Idris Elba. The plot of Beast may not be much deeper than that, but for me that’s more than enough, and the final result is thoroughly entertaining. Director Baltasar Kormakur understands exactly how to make a thrilling production, with state of the art CGI to bring a dangerous animal to life, and reeling the audience in with edge of your seats thrills. Plus you have Idris Elba, giving his everything emotionally and physically, as a father protecting his two daughters from a hungry predator, in by far one of the most entertaining movies of 2022. Beast has been unleashed and it’s packing a wild bite.
The setup is simple: Dr. Nate Samuels (Elba) has decided to bring his two daughters Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries) to East Africa to visit good friend and pseudo-uncle Martin (Sharlto Copley) for an adventurous vacation. It’s the place where their late mother once lived, long before her passing, and the goal is for a father and his daughters to reconnect. They arrive, have a nice night of dinner, and sleep before a long trip of sightseeing the next day. With Martin being an anti-poacher, he interacts with many of the animals, and shows his close relationship with people living in the villages and lions protecting their pride. But after a beautiful interaction with the animals, they drive up to find a village decimated, bodies left shredded, and have walked into the territory of a very angry lion. What follows is a fight for survival, with Nate and the two children trapped in their car, as the gigantic Beast roams, waiting to pounce on its next prey.
For director Baltasar Kormakur this is a subject matter and narrative that he is relatively used to by now. His previous films, Adrift, Everest, and The Deep have all been stories of survival. Unlike those previous films, Beast is simplified in the narrative; Ryan Engle wrote the screenplay, based on a story from Jaime Primak Sullivan, which boils it down to a father doing all it takes to protect his family. It’s a fascinating parallel, where the anger of the lion is rooted in his family being killed by poachers, so his violence and anger has a purpose, while Nate is faced with a moment to take on his role as protector. Because of the circumstances, Beast is often terrifying, with the threat of a violent killing machine stalking, while the threats of blood loss, isolation, and the fear of nobody able to find them trapped in the car.
The other factors that make Beast work so well are the various technical aspects. The cinematography is credited to both Baltasar Breki Samper and Philippe Rousselot, who use constant tracking shots, following all the movements of the lion, the family, and putting the audience in the moment of how the animals move. The special effects for the title Beast is also magnificent, using the same kind of CGI technology we see from The Revenant, as the up close shots of the lion look real, while also capturing the general movement of the animal. Beast is arguably one of the best slasher films made in the past 10-years, as the camera movements create the same tensions from films such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, or recently in Malignant.
What separates Beast from the rest of the movies is that it feels like a complete package, which may be viewed by some as too simple, or a B-movie unworthy of a higher praise. With Idris Elba leading the charge with his magnetism and great pacing of tension, it’s clear that these are the kinds of movies that truly entertain. Similar to Fall last week, Beast is the superior B-movie that trims the fat, keeping a tight production where the battle between man and Beast is the main event. The ending does not disappoint. This Beast is ready to roar.
BEAST IS PLAYING IN THEATERS FRIDAY AUGUST 19TH, 2022
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady