A lot of it, actually,
I know what you’re thinking. What could possibly make this run-of-the-mill, repetitive, man vs. animal story any different than films like snakes on a plane, or Jaws? Unlike the other films I mentioned, Beast had an all-black, dark skin, and natural-haired cast, blending seamlessly within the picturesque South African village and game reserve the family visited in this film. Taking place in the Motherland, Nate and his two teenage daughters travel to South Africa to visit the hometown of their recently deceased mother, and must fight to survive when they are stalked by a vicious lion. Idris Elba, or Doctor Nate Samuels, is a doctor, and father of Norah Samuels (Leah Jeffries) and Meredith Samuels (Iyana Halley).
Devastated by the sudden loss of Mrs. Sammuels. the Samuels family journeys to South Africa in an attempt to reconnect with one another, as well as visit the village where Mrs. Samuels lived. This trip is particularly important to Nate because he was not in his daughter’s life at the time of their mother’s passing. Meredith, Iyanna Halley’s character, really channeled the inner emotional teenage girl intensity through this 90-minute film. Painfully for Nate, Meredith lashes out at him similarly to how Mrs. Sammuels once did, serving as a living reminder of his deceased wife, and the time he spent away from her and his family in her final years. In addition, both Meredith and Mrs. Sammuels are emotional people who have a passion for photography, vintage photography to be exact. In addition to being a tale of survival, Beast is also a film about Nate’s silent desperation to gain the affection of his daughters.
The story of this small family sticking together all alone, fearful, and unprepared deep in the bush is not told without edge-of-your-seat action. Seeing this film on the big screen, in a dark theater, with Dolby sound creating a perfect 360 around me took me straight under the South African sun. In short, the cinematography, landscape, and CGI teams in this film understood its assignment. A shorter watch than most feature films, Beast doesn’t waste any time getting to the point. In just an hour and a half, expect to empathize and relate to a small cast of just four main characters, hold your breath a time or two in suspense, and leave just that much more in awe of Idris Elba as an actor.
Beast is an easy watch that goes by fast, packed with beautiful landscapes and most importantly, expert-level CGI and special effects. The beast in the movie, a lion whose entire pride was killed by merciless poachers, is a cat straight out of the pits of hell. The massive, one-eyed, scar look alike terrorizes Dr. Sammuels and the girls for an hour straight. Naturally, some moments within the film were predictable, as are many moments in similar films of this genre, however, Beast’s effort to create action and mystery within a repetitive genre is a success. If you do not go see this film for any other reason, let it be that this film does not try too hard to be something that it’s not. It’s an engaging, action-packed drama with an A-list actor supported by two young and up-and-coming black actresses, with a black director, filmed in the motherland. Oh, and it’s really good too.