PG Score: 5.75/10
Beast was released in theaters on 8/19/22
Director Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns and Everest) puts forth an uneven effort with his latest survival thriller. Stale melodrama, suspect supporting cast, and empty dialogue bog down what could have (and should have) been a ferociously fun film. Still, Beast bares some teeth in its captivating cinematography and a few tense confrontations.
The creature feature centers on Dr. Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) and his two daughters, Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries), as they venture to South Africa in an effort to mend their strained relationship. They visit a family friend in wildlife biologist Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley), but the happy reunion is short-lived. The group is soon preyed upon by an enormous rogue lion hell-bent on claiming the top spot on the food chain.
Sights and Sounds
The visuals are the main attraction and for good reason. Directors of Photography Phillipe Rousselot and Baltasar Breki showcase some incredible footage of South African wildlife to accompany the computer-generated lion. Thanks to the beefed-up sound design and special effects, the latter is certainly a crowd-pleaser. The destruction and carnage enacted by the fearsome feline is shown in gruesome detail. His relentless wrath is not the only draw, however. Despite the disparity in screen time, the raw visuals of the other animals are sometimes just as enthralling as the bloodthirsty behemoth in the spotlight.
Suspension of Disbelief
Beast contains a few compelling stalking sequences in which the predator hunts humans without remorse. The cat-and-mouse dynamic is effective up to a point, and the encounters with the poachers are especially satisfying. Unfortunately, the incomprehensibly poor logic of the characters detract from the horror. There is so little plausibility in many of their absurd decisions that it impacts the intensity of the action. Kormákur simply asks too much of his audience with regards to suspension of disbelief.
The domestic drama is boring overall and does little to raise the deadly stakes at the heart of the story. The conversations are repetitive and never really go anywhere. Nate is supposedly desperate to reconnect with his daughters following a devastating loss, but the meandering script seems to want the viewer to think the opposite. The messy writing is compounded by the subpar acting from Iyana Halley, who seems well out of her depth as the eldest daughter, Meredith. She shows very little range and her facial expressions and delivery rarely match her character’s lines.
In spite of the inferior material they are given to work with, the rest of the cast performs adequately. Idris Elba leads the charge as he does everything in his power to carry Beast by himself. Strive as he might to breathe life into the dull doctor, it is just not enough to make for an interesting protagonist. Sharlto Copley lends a hand as his trusted friend, Martin. The ever-reliable District 9 actor brings enough star power to the role to keep him from being a bore, but there is nothing he or anyone else can do about his character’s faults in the logic department. Leah Jeffries gives a decent performance as Nate’s younger daughter, Norah. The young performer picks up some of the slack left by Halley and shows promise for future roles.
Too Many Fatal Flaws
Baltasar Kormákur gambles on the hope that the family drama will elevate the central terror but comes up short. The rocky pacing and weak screenplay further muffle the big cat’s roar. Beast does manage to draw blood, but it is a far cry from the head of the animal kingdom.
PG Score: 5.75/10