Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (Everest), Beast, new to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, is an old-fashioned monster movie. Though it scores absolutely zero points for originality (one character wears a prominently-featured Jurassic Park shirt, underlining one source of inspiration), it’s a tightly-paced 93 minutes. Idris Elba is the star, but honestly just about any robust alpha male could’ve played the role of Dr. Nate Samuels, a mild-mannered family man who must embrace his own primal energy to defend his children.
Dr. Samuels has lost touch with his teen daughters, Mare (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries). Having recently lost their mother, Nate’s wife, they haven’t adjusted to the now-drastically different family dynamic. Nate takes the girls to South Africa to visit their mother’s home village. It’s there that he meets up with wildlife expert, and old friend, Martin (Sharlto Copley). Before long, Martin discovers that a lion, having recently lost its entire pride to poachers, has been stalking the village and indiscriminately killing any human it encounters.
That setup allows for some character development between Nate and his kids, but it’s swiftly dispensed in favor of a harrowing survival tale. After the rogue lion has done away with nearly everyone else in the village, the beast targets Martin, Nate, and the kids. Nothing further can even be explained because that’s literally all that’s left. The action is tense and there’s some pretty convincing CGI for the lions. It’s a monster movie. Can Nate protect himself and his kids from the predator? That’s Beast. No real surprises, but not a bad 90-minute time-filler.
Universal’s Blu-ray edition of Beast contains a deleted scene and a half-dozen featurettes. Most of this is pretty standard “making-of” stuff with a heavy emphasis on special effects. There is an interesting piece called “A Lion’s Pride” that delves a little bit into the reality of lion poaching in Africa. Nice to see a bit of seriousness injected into the big-budget nonsense.