Idris Elba has been featured in many movies, including the renowned Cats as the mysterious Macavity and Three Thousand Years of Longing as a genie. While these past movies lived up to their expectations, they are nothing close to the Beast when realism is anything to go by. The man against an apex predator, a lion, which belongs to the cat’s family, makes it even more captivating, considering Elba’s confession about being allergic to these species. Baltasar Kormákur shows off his limitless imagination in this action-packed disaster movie by facing off Elba against a rogue lion. As the director, he integrates CGI, conflicts, and long takes style that keeps the audience on edge and nearly yelling at the screen every moment.
The family feuds and bonds are telling, unbelievably unpredictable, and representation of the primary narrative of the Beast.
It doesn’t take much time for the audience to realize the movie centers on family conflicts and bonds. The somber mood of Doctor Nate and his daughters uncovers a deeply wounded family reverting to pilgrimage through a safari to reconnect with the roots of their deceased wife and mother. Although Kormákur is not fond of melancholy-like movies, he does a great job revealing the internal and personal conflicts between the different characters in this family. Before long, the rebellious nature of the older daughter throughout the film becomes obvious and a major source of suspense as the disasters unfold. She was visibly irritating, highlighting the established conflict between her and her father. The friction kind of speaks to the raging debate, hinting at the real-life anger of his daughter for failing to win a role alongside her father in the movie.
The movie takes a rather simplistic approach to unfolding the events. The straightforwardness creates a clear storyline for the audience to sympathize with Nate and his struggles to protect his family as the lion attacks them viciously. Enthralling events fueled by the defiant older daughter expose his vulnerability and desperation to keep everyone alive and safe, paving the way for Kormákur to take advantage of the CGI and cinematography effects to treat the audience to breathtaking scenes. Perhaps, the most eye-catching was the long mauling by the predator, destroying the car, shaking it, and even trying to mangle Nate under the car. It provides a realistic view of a cornered, scared family whose only option is to fight to survive. This scene demonstrates Kormákur’s expertise in films like 2 guns and Everest.
The unedited views of African plains underscore Beast’s authenticity.
It doesn’t come as a surprise for Kormákur to integrate the beautiful sceneries of South Africa’s lands in the movie. Anyone conversant with his shooting style recognizes he is a master of accurate representation of nature in his work and never passes a chance to show off these elements through his technically skilled cinematographers. More legitimacy credits go to showcasing local villages that confirm the director’s obsession with making the Beast as realistic as possible. Despite these efforts and the cool landscapes that the movie boasts, it would be good to point out the fuzziness of the CGI in some instances that left the audience questioning the seriousness of the director in some cases. All in all, no one can take away the fact that Kormákur excelled in bringing enchanting sceneries.
The intricate presence of diversity in the Beast is a plus.
Kormákur’s work in this movie feels like a shift from the status quo commonplace in many Hollywood films shot in the past. Rather than using white casts traveling to indulge in the African countryside, Idris Elba, Iyana Halley, and Leah Jeffries take up the tourists’ roles, further highlighting the diversity within the movie. It becomes even more interesting to witness an African American family being hosted by a South African white, Sharlto Copley, who is not only conversant with the plains but seamlessly interacts with a pride of lions. The contrary would have been the norm, but Kormákur distances himself by being different. Perhaps, this understanding proves why Beast is worth the time.
If adventure is the yardstick, the Beast ticks all the expectation boxes.
Some critics may call out Kormákur for unavoidable drawbacks in making the Beast, but no one can dispute its capacity to treat the viewers with suspense while building the family concept. Nothing grabs the viewers’ attention, like the lion taunting prey to avenge his family from the ferocious poachers. It forces Elba to become beast-like to protect his kin, making the ending exactly what anyone would crave.