“I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
– Woody Allen
As a movie junkie you can begin to read movie trailers pretty accurately. There are exceptions of course. Unfortunately those exceptions can go either way. A trailer can be pieced together haphazardly making an otherwise decent enough or even great movie look less than appealing. Or a great trailer can conceal an absolute train wreck of a movie. I suppose however you look at it, a trailer can really screw over pretty much everyone. Whether it’s the box office numbers or the lost income from a duped audience tricked into giving up their hard earned money on something that’s barely worth being tossed in the bargain bin at 7-11. I’m always reminded of the trailer for Looper and how cheap and silly it portrayed what ended up being one of the best sci-fi films of the last twenty years. And now we have Beast.
I think I’ll give the trailer creators a pass on this one as I’m not exactly sure how anyone could capture this movie properly in a 2 minute montage for a story consisting of nothing more than a family fighting off a lion. That’s it. That’s the entire movie so I don’t think a trailer was ever going to do the movie justice. Now let me clarify, this movie is nothing spectacular but the expectations I had for Beast were so incredibly low it had nowhere to go but up. If this movie had lived up to what I thought it was going to be or somehow came out worse it would have without question been a Razzie Award nominee. Luckily the movie gods occasionally show us mercy and give us something we might not deserve but certainly appreciate.
Beast is a prime example of taking something of such little substance and elevating it to heights it likely would have never reached in anyone else’s hands. So much of this could have been delivered with such disinterest and “get a paycheck” kind of mindset and no one would have expected anything less. Instead, by all accounts, this seems to have been approached with care and skill making for an admittedly silly thriller but also a surprisingly tension-filled and engaging creature-feature from beginning to end. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, I had no hope for this thing so for it to surpass my lowest of expectations isn’t saying much at its surface. By that I mean while it didn’t take much to surpass what I was bracing for, it left me pleasantly surprised and fully willing to recommend it moving forward.
Idris Elba leads this compact thriller and does so with his usual leading man qualities and delivers a perfectly fine performance. His female counterparts play his daughters, one teenager, one pre-teen. What might have been an attempt to make them seem brave and strong only left the audience questioning their mental capacity as they commit multiple cinematic sins. Instead of doing the obvious they would do something out of left field leaving anyone in their right mind with a serious case of eye-roll syndrome.
Where the obvious care and skill comes into play is behind the lens. The sequences are often long takes with hidden edits creating moments that seem to go on without any chances for breaths of relief. It makes the characters’ reality feel as if it’s our own. It pulls you in, making you a part of the action, awaiting an attack from a feral lion hellbent on bloody retribution. It calls attention to the smaller moments, the quieter times when the lion is swarming but still hidden in the brush. The tension is ratcheted up and released with great success for ninety minutes. The CGI is adequate enough to maintain a suspension of disbelief. Much to the strength of the film overall, the computer imagery is used to enhance rather than to overtake which happens far too often in bigger budgeted movies.
Beast is flawed in basically every direction but for all its shortcomings it makes up for them with long takes and wide shots along with properly timed tension and jump scares. The human characters are as entertaining as they need to be. They carry the story along between the moments featuring a bloodied, crazed king of the jungle. The lion itself is formidable and acts as Jaws on land, hidden not by the depths of a bottomless ocean but rather an untouched maze of trees and bushes meant to conceal the kills to come. It’s not meant to be examined and if you can accept that, Beast’s only goal is to entertain and thrill for ninety brief but hair-raising minutes.
Rated R For: violent content, bloody images and some language
Runtime: 93 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Horror
Starring: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Leah Jeffries, Iyana Halley
Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 6/ Acting: 7.5/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 7.5
OVERALL: 7.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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