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Beast Movie Review

Beast (2022) movie poster

Theatrical Release: August 19, 2022 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Baltasar Kormákur / Writers: Jaime Primak Sullivan (story); Ryan Engle (screenplay)

Cast: Idris Elba (Dr. Nate Samuels), Sharlto Copley (Martin Battles), Iyana Halley (Meredith Samuels), Leah Sava Jeffries (Norah Samuels)


I have little doubt that Beast would be called Lion, if there wasn’t already a great 2016 movie bearing that name.
With its even more generic title, you expect a generic creature feature. Countless movies have pitted man against deadly animal and though you occasionally get Jaws, more often you get the likes of Anaconda or Primeval or The Meg.

Fortunately, Beast surpasses those very minor expectations, displaying just enough creativity and care to deliver a perfectly watchable thriller at the low-key end of the summer moviegoing season.

Idris Elba plays Nate Samuels, an American doctor visiting his late wife’s native South Africa village with his two teenaged daughters (Iyana Halley and Leah Jeffries). The family of three is to visit and stay with “Uncle” Martin (Sharlto Copley in a role just right for him), the decedent’s lifelong friend who is actively pro-wildlife and anti-poacher.

"Beast" stars Idris Elba as an American doctor whose family becomes endangered by a ferocious lion in the wilds of South Africa.

The movie avoids subtlety as it lays the groundwork for the adventure we know we’re getting. Poachers have killed all but one lion in a pride. There’s no wi-fi or cell phone signal. Little needs to be said beyond the fact that Nate, his daughters, and Martin will find themselves up against an unusually ferocious lion with nothing to lose.

While expectedly, that premise is not the path to a film that will move you
and encourage you to reevaluate your life, it is a passable entry to a genre that generally underwhelms while angering animal-loving people of science who object to the inaccurate portrayals of active hostility towards humans.

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur is no stranger to helming serviceable Hollywood action flicks that challenge filmmakers far more than viewers. His string of okay performers include Everest (2015), Adrift (2018), Contraband (2012), and 2 Guns (2013). Beast manages to approach the medium heights of such unobjectionable commercial endeavors.

Kormákur‘s movies lack an aftertaste, but not taste outright. This one does an admirable job of developing its characters and making us care about their survival on more than just a basic human level. The visuals are solid, presumably all the wildcats on display being of the digital variety without looking like it. And the movie does not hit every beat you foresee, just most of them.

There’s not much intelligence but there is some excitement. Elba is well-cast in the role of heroic dad with something to prove, duties he hasn’t really held before. At just 93 minutes with credits, there is not much padding or excess. And with a budget of just $36 million, the movie should turn a profit without much difficulty, even as moviegoing slows while the new school year approaches.

Beast is no Jaws or even Cujo, but it does little to insult or disappoint you. At a time when mid-budgeted standalone movies have all but disappeared in favor of brands and universes, it’s not hard to appreciate even something as mediocre as this.

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Directed by Baltasar Kormákur: Everest

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Reviewed August 19, 2022.

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