I’ve got a confession… I love Idris Elba. Not only is he incredibly talented, but he’s also quite handsome and I would be dishonest if I didn’t start out this review by saying that I mostly wanted to see this movie because the thought of Idris Elba protecting his family and going toe to toe with an angry Lion is… very curated to my specific interests. However, while we’re being honest here I have to say that, for me, the only thing Beast had going for it was the fact that Idris Elba was on screen. Oh, and I went to see it in 4D, which I guess was also pretty cool.
Beast is a film directed by Baltasar Kormákur starring Idris Elba as Dr. Nate Samuels. Leah Jeffries and Iyana Halley play Dr. Samuels’ daughters whom are essentially estranged from their father after he decided to leave their mother towards the end of her life. The family visits Africa for a wild Safari led by Martin Battles (Sharlton Copley), who was an old friend of the late Mrs. Samuels. While out on Safari, they run into a Lion; an apex predator whose entire pack was murdered by poachers. The lion goes on a seemingly aimless rampage and starts killing every one in its sight and our characters are simply caught in the crossfire.
The stand out performance for me was that of Leah Jefferies who plays the youngest sister, Norah Samuels. I haven’t seen her in anything else, but I thought she did amazingly in this film. Apparently Idris Elba’s own daughter auditioned for her role, but didn’t get it because there wasn’t enough chemistry between her an Idris Elba. That was kind of a sad thing to find out, but I think they made a good choice.
One thing I enjoyed about this film is that it drew attention to poaching and the efforts many are making to maintain species in Africa. A main plot point of the film is that Martin Battles is incredibly invested in conservation and as an extension of that, raised many of the lions in the wild from birth. This has made him very defensive of the animals. This is never fully confirmed, but it is insinuated that in his free time, he hunts poachers and kills them the way they’d hunt and kill the lions he raised in the wild.
After those compliments for the film, I have nothing but criticism. This is one of those movies where if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve essentially seen the movie. The tension between Dr. Samuels and his children is interesting because we rarely see this specific family dynamic, but in my opinion, it simply isn’t enough to carry the film. This is a film that takes place in the wilderness of Africa, but it has a very small scope and scale. The majority of the film is spent with the characters being trapped in their Safari car and I think all in all, there’s probably only about 10 minutes of footage of Idris Elba kicking the lion’s ass. In a way, you also feel strange about him doing so because you understand that the Lion is only doing so because humans murdered his family. The lion isn’t a super charged, science experiment gone wrong, he’s just a particularly large lion that’s on a rampage. I guess I was just expecting a bit more, but hey, I came for Idris kicking lion butt and I guess I got what I paid for.
Since this is the first review I’m doing on my site, I wanted to introduce my rating system. I’m going to give each film I review one of the following ratings:
Watch It – A good movie I left not only wanting to see it again, but also wanting to dissect it even more.
Stream it – Decent movie, but I’m not sure I’d go to the theaters to see it.
Skip it – Wouldn’t waste my time with it.
With that being said, my rating for this film is….
I’m going to give Beast a solid Stream it, but purely because it has Idris Elba in it. If you don’t care about that.. It’s a solid Skip it.