Nature run amok flick finds Dr. Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) taking his two teenage daughters Mer (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries) to Africa to visit the homeland of their recently deceased mother. There he reunites with old friend and wildlife reserve manager Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley) who introduced him to his late wife. They also meet up with a blood-thirsty lion who is on a murderous rampage after poachers have killed its mate and slaughtered its pride.
African set thriller is well directed by Baltasar Kormákur from a script by Ryan Engle. It is tense and suspenseful and while paced very well, does give enough time to let us get to know Nate, Martin and the girls, so we care about them. It also makes our rampaging beastie a bit sympathetic as we witness the slaughter of its mate and thus understand it’s rage. This gives Beast a bit of emotional resonance, but also works against the film in that you never really see the animal as a monster or a true villain. In terms of the poachers…a real-life issue addressed here…you are actually on its side. Once the film gets going it is very entertaining and the attacks have impact though, again, like Frankenstein’s monster, the lion is not a creature you come to hate as its rampage has reason. You kind of feel bad for it despite liking Nate and his daughters. The cast are all good here and the added background drama involving the death of Nate’s wife, gives their characters and the proceedings dramatic weight, but it might have been far more effective if you weren’t so understanding of the massive feline’s fury. Hard to hate the cat when he lost his wife too! A good movie still worth a watch but could have been more effective done as an old-fashioned monster movie a la Jaws or Grizzly.