The Reel Review

C

A widowed doctor on safari with his two teenage daughters in South Africa must fight for their lives after a vengeful lion, enraged when illegal poachers kill his entire pride, goes on a deadly rampage, in this action/adventure thriller starring Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley (District 9), Iyana Halley and Leah Jeffries.

Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley and Iyana Halley in Beast.

Despite a totally goofy premise (lions aren’t vengeful), there is still some clever point-of-view camerawork to create a heightened sense of danger in this otherwise very ho-hum creature feature from director Baltasar Kormakur (Katla, Adrift). The film’s other villain – illegal poachers – get a fair amount of screen time, as do the doctor’s super annoying teenage girls, whose behavior is so frustratingly stupid that you’ll likely find yourself rooting for the lion – or even the poachers – to take them out, just to put us out of our misery.

Idris Elba and the villainous CGI lion in Beast

The computer-generated lions range from the quite impressive (particularly the friendly ones earlier in the film) to some that are really fake looking (typically the villain), another reminder that this film has been done before – albeit with a way smaller budget – with 2020’s Rogue, starring Megan Fox. At the end of the day, from its truly weird dream sequences that look pulled straight from a Beyoncé video to just so much suspension of disbelief (Elba punching the rogue lion, really?!), this family-in-peril thriller is just too silly and unbelievable to be the slightest bit thrilling. The visuals of the South African countryside are nice though.

REEL FACTS

• All of the lions in Beast are computer generated, although director Baltasar Kormákur did bring a live one to the set one day to emulate its movement with CGI.

• Idris Elba also played a doctor trying to survive in the wilderness with Kate Winslet in The Mountain Between Us.

• Filming of Beast took place in South Africa’s rural provinces of Limpopo and Northern Cape, as well as Cape Town.

 

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