Now showing on Sky Cinema, Beast is the latest film to follow a wild animal turning on humans. This time round it’s a rogue lion taking on Idris Elba, and unfortunately the end result is as ridiculous as it sounds.
The film opens on a group of poachers as they gun down a pride of lions during the night. One lion however escapes them and proceeds to take down the poachers one by one, infuriated by the death of his pride. The next day Elba’s Dr Nate Samuels is travelling to South Africa with his two teenage daughters Norah (Leah Jeffries) and Meredith (Iyana Halley), where their mother grew up. The girl’s mother and Nate’s ex-wife has recently passed away from cancer and he is taking them to visit their mother’s homeland and to stay with old friend and game reserve manager Martin (Sharlto Copley). Nate hopes the trip will help him reconnect with his daughters and heal the wounds caused by their mother’s death.
Martin takes the family to tour the restricted areas of the reserve, including a visit to a local pride of lions. Later they visit a local community where Martin discovers most of the population mauled to death. Suspecting a lion, the group rush back to report the incident and come upon an injured man from the community in the middle of the road. While Nate tries to help the man, Martin spots the lion and rushes off to investigate where he is ambushed and seriously injured.
Nate rushes back to the truck as the lion comes for him and the girls, and Meredith manages to drive away only to crash into a tree close by. Stuck in the truck with the lion prowling in the distance, Nate manages to speak to Martin on the radio, who is bleeding badly and in need of serious medical attention. Unable to use the radios to call for help due to the mountainous location, Nate must use whatever he can muster to protect his daughters while he attempts to rescue Martin from being used as the lion’s bait.
As far as film plots go, Beast’s is not particularly deep or original. From the cliched family trauma to the lion gone rogue, it swings from the predictable to the utterly absurd. Seeing Idris Elba’s character physically fight a lion is possibly one of the most bizarre and ridiculous things I’ve ever seen and so laughably unbelievable. This is the main problem with this entire film, it’s just incredibly unbelievable that a lion can be this powerful and superhuman. It manages to take down an entire community, groups of armed poachers and appears to be seemingly unaffected by tranquilisers and gun shots. There’s even a point in this film where the lion would very obviously have been killed, but yet reappears in the finale, visibly charred but seemingly unhurt, which really beggared belief.
The CGI lion itself is mostly impressive, but there are times when the CGI becomes jarring and outside of the animals, it looks a little dodgy. The South African scenery and landscapes look beautiful and the cinematography does well to highlight this beautiful area, but some of the camera angles and shaky footage during the action scenes detract from the scenery and the drama. Idris Elba is as reliable as always and I’ve had a soft spot for Sharlto Copley since District 9, but they couldn’t save this and Elba’s questionable American accent certainly didn’t help.
Beast is a good looking film with a great cast, but the plot lets it down and it’s ultimately forgettable.
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!