Beast : Movie Review / Idris Elba Fights Lion on the Survival Thriller

Beast : Movie Review / Idris Elba Fights Lion on the Survival Thriller

Ever since Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” took a huge bite out of the worldwide box office, the man vs nature theme has established a strong footing on the silver screen. This time, we are faced with the king of the jungle as the monstrous threat. “Beast,” a suspense-filled action-horror entry, is so intense that nobody could utter words such as “Hakuna Matata” and feel anything but dread.

Idris Elba plays a grieving widower, Nate, who drags his two teenage daughters, Mere (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries), to a South African game reserve. Embarking on an emotional journey to the birthplace of his deceased ex-wife, he hopes to reconcile his conflicted inner feelings and those of his daughters, but the friction between them intrudes on the effort. Much of it is rooted in Nate’s specific failures as a husband and father.

Meeting the trio is Martin (Sharlto Copley), a wildlife biologist and longtime friend, who’s prepared to give them the grand tour of the vast nature preserve, including an exciting stop-off to check on a pride of lions he helped raise since they were cubs.

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Coping with absentee issues and hostility from Mere, Nate had hoped to reconcile with his former love — now impossible since she died of cancer unexpectedly — and bond with his daughters. But the trip didn’t go as planned.

Visiting a small village, Martin and Nate’s family discover that the local residents have been ravaged by a rogue lion, one who’s rage has been triggered by the vicious poachers, who have hunted these lions for their teeth, claws, skins and even bones to fetch high prices on the black market. It turns out that this predator has a huge bone to pick with humans and this wildlife adventure quickly turns into a hunting ground for this wild cat.

When the four-legged creature attacks Nate and his girls, it forces them into a stalled truck with the family hanging on to dear life. It establishes a feeling of confined space that makes you feel trapped and panicky.

The two girls are doing the opposite of everything dad and Martin told them to do, particularly in a situation that any girl would be petrified by. They draw the beast’s attention by honking a horn, using walkie talkies, and shouting into the darkness. Even if their actions were found to be irrational, it’s easy to dismiss but it makes the viewing experience of a beast attacking with big paws more entertaining.

Given his past experience, with 2015’s “Everest” and 2018’s “Adrift,” Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur takes on this simple premise, and runs full speed with an effective approach that maximizes the tension. His smooth camerawork allows us to witness the nail-baiting action scenes, and the quieter moments are hinted at with an anticipation that something could happen any moment. That makes this digitally enhanced predator seem all the more real to audiences.

Elba is no stranger to heroic roles.

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Here, he’s a calm, reliable battlefield medic and aware of the law of the jungle, slowly taking control of his job as a father, and fearlessly saving his loved ones in the face of danger. His daughter Mere displays her own bravery during the experience, establishing her independence as well.

It’s no big spoiler to reveal that we get to see Elba versus The Lion, but in the end, you’re going on a thrill ride.

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Grade B

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Here’s the trailer of the film.

Release Date (Theaters):   Wide
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