Beast gave me exactly what I was hoping it would: Idris Elba fighting a lion. The film also gave me something I didn’t expect, which is a story centered on family healing from loss. It’s something that everyone can relate to and you instantly connect with the Samuels family and what they are going through. It also features great performances from the four main cast members, which I loved being the main focus of the film. If you enjoy films like Jaws and this year’s Nope, you will definitely enjoy Beast as well.
This review will contain mild spoilers for Beast, so you’ve been warned!
Idris Elba is our lead character as Dr. Nate Samuels, who is dealing with the loss of his wife to cancer. She was from South Africa, so Nate decides to take his two teenage daughters, Meredith and Norah, to visit where their mother grew up. He arranges for them to stay with their Uncle Martin (Sharlto Copley) who works to help protect the wildlife on the African Savanna. Martin takes them out on a tour of the Savanna, but once they reach a local village that has been attacked by a rogue lion, it’s a fight for survival.
Idris Elba is reliable as always as Dr. Nate Samuels; he is dealing with the loss of his wife while seeing so much of her in his teenage daughters. He gives a great performance and has great chemistry with Iyana Halley (Meredith) and Leah Jeffries (Norah). They are very believable as a family and Halley and Jeffries are especially believable as teenage sisters, complete with bickering and banter. Samuels would do and does anything to protect his daughters and Elba makes that evident through his performance.
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Sharlto Copley also gives a great performance as Martin, a longtime friend of Nate who helps guide the Samuels through the Savanna. It was perfect casting since Copley is from Johannesburg, South Africa, so it felt authentic on screen. Copley is also a terrific and underrated actor in my opinion, so it’s nice to see him on the big screen again.
The thing that I appreciated the most about the film was the runtime; Beast is 90 minutes and it doesn’t drag like some 90 minute films can. You get the backstory you need for the Samuels and Martin in the beginning, then once we get onto the Savanna we get into the action. Beast did not need to be a two hour film and I’m glad that it wasn’t; I was engaged the entire time, especially once the rogue lion was around.
Overall, this is a movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen. There are some beautiful shots of the Savanna and the amazing animals that live there; it felt like I was on the Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom at times. The only critique I can find is that the CGI for the lions is not amazing, but they get the job done, especially in the last 15 minutes of the film. Beast is a great survival thriller with a wonderful cast, so I would highly recommend going to see it while you can in theaters!