It’s a monster movie. The plot is simple, and that is for the best.
Beast is a very entertaining movie, and part of the reason is that it is incredibly unrealistic. Idris Elba as Dr. Nate Samuels called up Kaya Scodelario to ask about her character Haley from Crawl (2019) and how she was able to survive being mauled by human-hungry alligators. Dr. Nate Samuels is jumped on, tore at and bitten by a killer lion. Yet, somehow, he is able to climb out of whatever trouble he finds himself in. It is all part of suspension of relief needed in a monster movie like Beast. You need to be able to live with that to enjoy the movie.
The one aspect you don’t need to enjoy is the family angle. Dr. Nate Samuels has two young daughters he wants to reconnect with, and we are reminded constantly that he has lost their trust and their family dynamic is broken. The older daughter Meredith goes full sassy teenager bringing up her gripes with her dad at the worst possible time, whether it be at dinner on the first night of vacation or in a car being preyed upon by a tiger. The plot point is forced, as are the visual dreamscapes Samuels takes part in. Sorry not sorry, but we only know about Mrs. Samuels through dialogue and photographs she took before she was sick. I can bow to crazy suspension of disbelief when it comes to the lion related moments, but throwing in fantastical ghosts for morale rejuvenation is a step too far.
Yet still, even with that big caveat, this movie still works. Baltasar Kormákur directs a fast paced (sometimes too faced) monster movie that uses a creature not often portrayed in a terrifying sense. Beast does not linger the majesty of the creatures. The references of poachers is not too big of a shadow over the simplicity of the story. Beast doesn’t take it self too seriously, which is arguably the most important trait to have when making a movie like this.
Beast hits the monster movie formula. Set the scene with a Jurassic Park-esq beginning with the beast killing victims out of sight. The danger level is set which means it’s time to set the stakes with a family and two young kids. Children have to be in trouble, you know that is the rule. Oh, we need a hunter/ranger type character that knows the landscape and sees the likable side of the monsters? You are damn right we do. Now it is time for the beast. Get it in different environments, but always from it from worm-angle to make it look as large as possible. There needs to be a near-death experience for the monster, but evil always survives, leading to one final showdown where our hero must face off against the aura of pure primal violence. For an extra dose of flavoring, have nature itself be part of the final result in order to emphasize that it’s the laws of the jungle that moderate everything.
Beast is exactly what I expected from when the first trailer dropped. Idris Elba took the paycheck, and all the power to him. Good for him. In all honesty, I wish more movie stars made movies like this. Beast is an elevated version of something that Sylvester Stallone would star in. Elba, rather than inserting himself in unnecessary areas, just rode the wave and enjoyed the environment.
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