Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur

Written by: Ryan Engle

Starring: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Iyana Halley, Leah Sava Jeffries

Rating: [3.5/5]

Humans have proven to be the most formidable species on Earth not because of our physical attributes as compared to other animals but rather the technology we created in order to have our dominion. It’s safe for us to navigate nearly every aspect of this world because of it. However, we cannot forget when we step into territory that belongs to others and the disadvantage we can find ourselves having. One of those certainly is the pride lands of Africa where if you step into a wrong region there could be a predator ready to defend its claim to where you stand. Beast gets into this dilemma as it mixes the battle with a big angry lion and the relationship of two daughters and their father. 

Following the passing of his wife, Dr. Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) takes his two daughters on a trip to South Africa where they will get the chance to experience everything the country has to offer. This leads them on a safari trip where they encounter a rabid lion looking to take down every living thing it comes across. 

The premise is simple, Idris Elba versus a lion, is there anything else that needs to be said? Everything this film sold to get audiences through the door stemmed from this battle and this film truly delivered on its promise while also sprinkling in some familial drama and interesting aside about the impact poachers have on the wild animals inhabiting the African continent. It ultimately proves to be the reason why this film works beyond just the main selling point of the feature. However, we’re all still here for Elba versus the lion, let’s not forget that for a second. Part of me was just waiting for the moment when Elba would punch the lion and when it happened, there certainly was some fist-pumping happening. 

With the setup of this feature taking a doctor on a safari with his family, it puts them against the odds because they are out of their depth out in the wild where several animals out there are capable of ending their lives. For several sections of the feature, Nate and his daughters find themselves alone out in the wilderness and the elements with them being the ultimate underdogs for survival. The stakes could not be higher seeing as their very lives are at risk because of this rabid lion going around. It makes for a continuously tense experience. You never know what is coming around the corner and if there’s anything else other than the rabid lion out there that can imperil the lives of Nate and his two daughters. 

A major theme of the film proved to be a message against poachers, or individuals who make money from hunting animals in the safari and selling their parts for profit. An obviously horrifying practice and this film makes the point that it perhaps is the inciting incident for this lion while also introducing the idea of anti-poachers. At least new to me, it shares how there are individuals who, in the name of preserving the animals, hunt the poachers, which is pretty awesome. However, this idea also adds some depth to this lion where it becomes a rabid animal taking out innocent people but perhaps one just angry that its pride was taken out by terrible poachers. Once that information became available, I almost wanted to side with the lion and its quest for revenge. One scene, in particular, allows this revenge to be a bit more satisfying. 

Elements of this feature do get a bit fantastical, especially when it comes to Elba taking on this lion. When it gets to the part where he literally has hand-to-hand combat with it, the scene may elicit an outward laugh but I guess that can be attributed to the love of a father trying to protect his children. It allows Elba to show off his own physically imposing body to at least put up some level of a fight against this big cat. 

Beast delivers very well on the basic premise it promises but also adds some intriguing sprinkles of messaging around poaching that allows for various levels of entertainment in this feature. The film aims for nothing else and that is more than okay. What we receive does more than entertain and it makes me have even more of an appreciation for the furry creatures out there in the wild and that they really should just be left alone to live in their circle of life.

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