From silent monster movies like The Golem and The Lost World to our ongoing fascination with monsters like Godzilla and King Kong, decades after their introductions, we've always liked to watch humanity face off against beasts at the movies. It's as if watching these films is the closest thing we can get to revisiting our brutish origins as a species. With characters this dumb, it's a surprise humans ever got so far.
Nate Samuels, a newly widowed doctor, travels to South Africa with his two daughters Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries), who he met while visiting a game reserve with his old family friend Martin (Sharlto Copley), who has had to deal with poachers killing lions, with one such incident leaving the entire family and Martin struggling to survive the lion's claws.
The Samuels family and Martin spend the afternoons exploring the reserve, the Martins home, and a nearby village. These experiences induce the viewer into a false sense of security in the first act, before utilizing this technique in longer fights of this family and the lion.
Yet undermining this stylistic choice is a script that lacks any real surprises, other than the numerous ways these characters may find themselves in these terrible situations. In the third act, Engle spends the first act basically setting up every weapon hell hell use to surprise the audience in the third act. There's nothing wrong with presenting a series of plot points that will pay out in the end, but it also makes this journey seem very clear every step of the way.
Adding to the horror of this harrowing event, is the way these characters act. These long cuts allow for quieter scenes in these performances that are awkward and fake, and the decisions these characters make are hard to rationalize in this tale. If there is a giant, seemingly unstoppable lion that is threatening to devour your family, it's best to stay away from the sole broken window, and maybe it's not a great idea to use a walkie-talkie in the middle of the
In spite of the directing and writing sometimes limiting the performances, this cast delivers their best in this harrowing situation. Both Halley and Jeffries play this part very well in their roles, while Norah, the younger of the two, is the source of some of the film's most humorous moments.
Elba is at his best when he is assigned to be the action hero of the piece, and in those moments, he plays his battles with the lion in the kind of uncertain and terrified way that one would expect in this scenario. And while Copley is decent, the heart of Beast is concentrated on this family, and Copley's character, unfortunately, becomes more of a narrative device than a full character.
Beast is at its climax when it comes to playing to that desire to see man defeat beast and see who wins. When the titular beast is stalking its prey, he starts beating its opponents with force, and the audience is in the mindset of what you would do if you saw Idris Elba fight a lion, and with that in mind, Beast gives the audience what they desire: Shere Khan's voice in an absolute stupor.
Beast is certainly clunky in its execution at times, and these characters might make fairly unbelievable decisions, but this is where this thrives and is at its finest interest.
Beast will be released on August 19 in cinemas.