After seeing the trailer for Beast, I was immediately interested. As a massive fan of the 1996 movie The Ghost and the Darkness, I was excited to see another lion movie emerge as a more contemporary take on a similar story. The Ghost and the Darkness was based on the true story of the Tsavo man-eating lions. From the information I gathered from the preview, not only would this be a great movie about a lion attacking humans and the fight for survival, but Beast also stars the one and only Idris Elba. That alone got me looking forward to the release of this movie. However, after going to see the film, I left disappointed and somewhat annoyed by the lack of quality of this movie.
To begin, we are introduced to our main characters, and it’s a fairly standard beginning. The dialogue works hard to clue us into the characters’ backstories. Right away, we get a few moments of foreshadowing that are far from subtle. Once the lines are spoken, or the scene has played, it is easy to guess what the movie has in store for you immediately. As the film progresses, we get more backstory from the character’s dialogue that feels forced and unnatural. Finally, after a long, drawn-out beginning, we get to where we believe the action will start. Dr. Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) and his daughters Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries) head out on safari with an old friend, and we get our first glimpse of the lions. The visuals of the movie are incredible, stunning even, showing off the beauty of nature in Africa. But yet again, as we approach the lions, there are even more lines that are an obvious foreshadowing of what will happen. It’s not even foreshadowing at this point but almost blatantly telling the movie’s plot points.
. The suspense begins building when the man-eating lion finds them and starts attacking. This was what I was hoping for when going to see this film. I am unfortunately quickly taken out of the movie when the fighting becomes obscenely unrealistic. In a film about an animal attack, there is a certain level of disbelief you are willing to tolerate as a viewer for the protagonist to succeed in such an unlikely matchup. The way Beast approaches these situations is ridiculous. As much as I love Idris Elba, it’s hard to believe he could come out on top against a nearly five-hundred-pound man-eating monster. Personally, I am somewhat of an animal facts enthusiast, and the incredibly unrealistic portrayals of the animals in Africa completely pulled me out of the movie magic. One small detail that annoyed me is that there are saltwater crocodiles in the water, clearly seen by the viewer and the characters. Despite this, all the characters are more than willing to get in the water. Saltwater crocodiles are much more likely to devour a human being than a lion.
As the movie continues, the awful foreshadowing starts to come to light as the moments we predicted from the beginning start happening. To make things even worse, after a moment connects to something said earlier in the film, the character will go through a long-winded explanation of what just happened. It feels not only condescending, as though you couldn’t figure out what they had been hinting at, but incredibly annoying. This trend continues over and over again throughout the rest of the film, making the ending very frustrating to get through. The only good thing about this movie beyond the beautiful visuals and graphics is the tension built in each survival situation. Although predictable, it was still an exciting movie that had you rooting for the protagonists.
Despite my massive complaints about this movie’s writing, it was still a somewhat entertaining experience. I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t say I loved it. I was looking forward to the parallels to a movie I loved when I was younger. Going into it, I wanted so badly to love this movie. Unfortunately, it fell flat in ways that I didn’t expect, with an ending just as predictable as the rest of the film. Nevertheless, it is still worth watching; maybe you will enjoy it much more than I did. Check out the trailer for yourself here!