Beast is directed by Baltasar Kormákur, written by Ryan Engle, and stars Idris Elba, Iyana Halley, Leah Sava Jeffries, and Sharlto Copley. It tells the story of a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, on a long-planned trip with his two young daughters to a game reserve managed by an old family friend and fellow wildlife biologist. Soon a ferocious, man-hunting, wild lion mysteriously begins attacking them and killing anyone in its path. Beast joins the very prestigious cannon of big animal movies and while it’s not quite Jaws, it’s a lot of fun.
Baltasar Kormákur directs this film with a surprising amount of energy. While a film like this might usually not pay as much attention to the filmmaking and focus on the CGI, Kormákur showers the audience with long take after long take. These free-flowing one-take sequences create a dream-like trance for the audience, and the audience is given a creature feature with a lot of genuine personality. It’s definitely not on the same level as something like The Revenant, but it gives you more to chew on than one would expect.
The screenplay from Ryan Engle might be the weakest link here. Most of the emotional beats feel half-baked and none of the characters here are too strong. This is made up of a very talented cast led by the remarkable Idris Elba. Only an actor this charismatic could make this material work as well as it does. Sharlto Copley is also a very nice addition to the supporting cast here as well; I’d personally love to see him appear in more movies as he’s always a welcome addition.
Now, we can talk about direction, acting, and writing all day long – but what we’re all really here for is that big lion. It’s pretty darn big. The CGI looks good for the most part and we are treated to several inventive sequences with the lion attacking our poor frightened characters. My only complaint would be that once we arrive at the much-hyped-up fight scene between Elba and the titular beast, it’s a little short-lived. It’s still a well-done sequence, but I wanted to see more. However, Beast still remains a highly entertaining ride for a majority of it’s running time and is bolstered by its performances and direction.
In short, Beast is exactly what you’re paying for.