A doctor and his daughters are hunted by a lion and haunted by a loss in ‘Beast’
“Beast” is a good action movie that features a vicious, rogue lion, but it has something else: a solid story about a family dealing with grief.
Most of all, the film has Idris Elba, one of the best actors in today’s cinema.
Mr. Elba plays Dr. Nate Samuels, a physician and widower who takes his teenage daughters Norah (Leah Jefferies) and Meredith or “Mer” (Iyana Halley) to Africa, where they visit Nate’s friend Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley) and journey with Martin into the savanna.
That’s the same savanna where poachers have killed all the members of a pride except for one lion, who’s out for revenge against any human he encounters. Unfortunately, Nate, Norah, Mer and Martin meet this lion, up close.
The CGI work in “Beast” is convincing, and the encounters with the lion are compelling. But what works even better is director Baltasar Kormákur’s pacing and a story that doesn’t overuse the lion. The focus remains where it should, on a family that’s afraid.
There are better action movies than “Beast,” and the story isn’t entirely original. The film even acknowledges this with one character wearing a “Jurassic Park” T-shirt. But again, this film has something not in the “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” movies. Although those movies featured a strong cast of their own (and are better movies than “Beast”), this movie has Idris Elba.
So you should see “Beast,” not because of the lion, not because of the terror (which will require you to suspend disbelief at times). See it for Mr. Elba.
But also see it for the performances of the actresses playing Nate’s teenage daughters. They make these kids compelling, and the chemistry among the three actors creates the most important element in this entire film. The lion is there for the plot, but the family is what gives “Beast” its meaning.
The movie shows the family coping with the loss of the kids’ mother/Nate’s wife, and there’s some character growth here that is often missing in many action films.
No, “Beast” isn’t as good as “Jurassic Park,” but it stands on its own as an intriguing story about a family who finds a way to heal. And that’s where the true drama lies.