Man vs Beast. A genre of movies that have spawned some of the greatest films of all time. From Jaws to The Birds to even Jurassic Park, this genre is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s clear that Baltasar Kormákur wants to cash in on an already solidified movie genre with Beast, but the problem is the movie becomes nothing more than a repeat of what we’ve already seen.
Beast follows widowed Dr. Nate Samuels and his two teen-aged daughters, Meredith and Norah. Samuels decides to take his daughters to the Mopani Game Reserve in South Africa where their mother was born. Wrecked with guilt for leaving his family before his wife succumbed to cancer, Samuels uses this trip as a way to bond with his daughters once again.
This is not an easy task. Both of his daughters resent him, especially Meredith (who refuses to answer to anything but Mer). Now that the stage is set, the internal conflicts have been described and portrayed.
Enter the lion.
Reportedly the film was pitched to Universal as Cujo with a lion. The similarities between Stephen King’s masterpiece and the film are clear. Most of the scenes happen from inside the car and multiple scenes mirror the 1983 film. While Cujo could be examined as a critique of addiction, Beast does not make a huge social statement, at least not a good one.
If one could sum up the message of this movie it would be that nature is finally fighting back. The movie starts with a group of poachers killing almost and entire pride of lions. There are many side discussions in the film about poaching in Africa and how poachers have moved to killing lions. This sparks the fight in the lion to fight back against all humans. This is evident by the fact that the lion does not eat any human he kills; instead he leaves them to bleed out an die.
Another message that the film attempts to address is the long standing Hollywood movie idea that to gain something back, one must sacrifice something. From Obi-Wan’s Sacrifice in Star Wars to most recently Tony Starks sacrifice in Endgame. Dr. Nate Samuels must to sacrifice something in order to redeem himself in his daughters eyes and his own.
While the acting in the film is captivating enough, the predictability of it all is its own downfall. This is not a new story. If you’ve seen Cujo, or Piranha, Arachnophobia, or The Meg, you’ve seen Beast. Does this mean its not a great watch? Absolutely not. With some jump-scares, incredible crying scenes, and a full on lion fist fight its a film worth at least one watch.
While all of this is interesting, the lion is the true star of the show as Idris (as fantastic as he is in the film) takes a backseat. With multiple gunshots, a tranquilizer to the butt, and attacks by multiple poachers, the lion is a much more charismatic villain than Cugo.
For more from Deareyes, check out his review of My Fake Boyfriend here!