Laws of the Jungle

Beast

Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Cast: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Leah Jeffries, Iyana Halley, Martin Munro

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Running Time: 1 hour 33 minutes

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur brings Beast to the big screen starring Idris Elba (Molly’s Game, The Mountain Between Us) as an American doctor Dr Nate Samuels who takes his daughters to their late mother’s homeland in South Africa and fits in a safari adventure that turns into a nightmare.

Beast is shot entirely in South Africa near the borders of Zimbabwe and Namibia, Beast tracks the survival story of Dr Samuels and his two daughters as they team up with a South African game ranger and anti-poacher played thankfully by South African actor Sharlto Copley who made his breakthrough in Neil Blomkamp’s sci fi Johannesburg epic District 9 and went on to star in such Hollywood films as Gringo and Maleficent.

When a gang of vicious poachers kill a pride of lions but leave the male lion free, the ferocious male lion takes revenge on everyone in his territory including a Venda village and some of the poachers. When Dr Samuels and his South African friend Martin unknowingly step into the rogue lion territory all hell breaks loose and he has to fight this monstrous beast in the rough terrain of the South African veld while protecting his two daughters Norah and Meredith Samuels played respectively by Leah Jeffries and Iyana Halley.

As the rogue lion persistently threatens Dr Samuels and family, poachers are killed as well as innocent villagers however Beast does feel one dimensional with no counterpoint to the bush fight to balance the film out.

Using some ethnic dream sequences, Dr Samuels reminisces about his late South African born wife, however these vivid flashbacks are not sufficient to create a credible backstory for his character.

As a story about anti-poaching and conservation, Beast works efficiently, like nature fighting back at the evils of mankind although ultimately the rogue lion steps into another pride’s territory and soon has to deal with the laws of the jungle. Unfortunately the script writer could have fleshed out the story’s premise more accurately to allow some credible background to the central character. Fortunately Idris Elba is a good enough actor to make the audiences believe in his instinctive fight for survival, which is both exciting and scary.

It is comforting to watch a film being made in South Africa which focuses on the issues of wildlife poaching and the importance of conservation while making Beast a thrilling, edge of your seat ride about man versus beast, with the former trying to outwit the latter in some horrific scenes ending in a savage showdown.

Beast is an enjoyable survival film with a distinctly African feel and gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10. It’s a refreshing take on the man versus nature scenario in line with films like Jaws and to a lesser extent Anaconda.

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