Beast Reviews Are In, See What Critics Have To Say About The Idris Elba Survival Thriller

Idris Elba in Beast.
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Idris Elba’s chances of playing James Bond may not be looking so good these days, but the actor’s got bigger fish to fry in his latest project — specifically, the king of the jungle. Beast stars Elba as Nate Samuels, who takes his daughters on a trip to South Africa following the death of his wife. The family soon finds themselves being stalked by a huge, deadly lion and in a fight for their lives. Critics have screened the movie ahead of its August 19 theatrical release, so let’s see what they have to say.

Alongside Idris Elba, Beast stars Iyana Halley (This Is Us, Abbott Elementary) and Leah Jeffries (Empire) as Nate’s daughters Mere and Norah, respectively. Sharlto Copley plays Martin Battles, who welcomes the family to his wildlife reserve. Let’s get right to the critics’ thoughts, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of Beast. Eric Eisenberg rates the movie 2.5 stars out of 5, saying the escape scenes are exciting and well-done, but the film lags too much when the beast isn’t around. He says:

Beast knows that its greatest asset is its feral wildcat, and it doesn’t quite know what to do with itself when it’s not around. It leaves a lot on the table when it comes to the perils of being stranded in the middle of an African savannah with no communication available, and is satisfied doing the minimum when it comes to what could be called “human stuff” in the context of the material.

Kate Erbland of IndieWire isn’t quite on board either with this man vs. beast tale, grading it a C, despite its promising concept (Idris Elba fights a lion? I’m down.). The opening sequence, while wildly entertaining, invokes too much sympathy for the antagonist, and the characters make frustratingly cliched horror movie decisions, she says: 

While nothing beats the film’s opening sequence, which delights in playing with the pitch-black darkness of the savanna at night and the threat of a lion who might sneak out and grab you at any minute, when Beast goes full terror, it delivers. Unfortunately, its stars also find themselves beholden to some of the less-clever elements of horror-movie storytelling. Nate and the girls are innocent, but they are also truly, truly stupid, and despite often showing signs of intelligence (again, Nate is a doctor! Mere is a gifted artist with big college plans!), they crumble into scary-movie tropes when faced with their furred nemesis.

William Bibbiani of The Wrap says there are certainly worse ways to spend 93 minutes, but the movie overall lacks substance — except when it comes to the cinematography. From the review: 

The MVP of Beast is veteran cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, who crafts the film out of extended, complicated takes that give it a remarkable visual clarity. Director Kormákur (Everest) cannot rely on rapid-fire editing to make these situations convincing; the scares cannot come from out of nowhere. This is a film that makes viewers hyper-aware of the treacherous surroundings, making them hunt every frame for telltale signs of a pissed-off, hungry lion.

Brian Truitt of USA TODAY seems in line with other critics, rating Beast 2.5 out of 4 stars. The writer calls the movie “tolerable,” and says the CGI beast is “not bad,” which are lukewarm compliments, and likely a far cry from words one would prefer to see describing their film, even if we are in the dregs of summer.  The critics says:

Once the vicious lion starts stalking its prey – and claustrophobic attacks lead to an epic face-off between man and nature – the film finds its way and offers up some decent jump scares before the story begins to dip toward far-fetched fantasy. You will have to endure some forgettable B-movie dialogue: ‘We’re in his territory now,’ Copley somehow says with a straight face as the movie’s four-legged villain makes his presence felt.

Josh Spiegel of SlashFilm rates the movie 5 out of 10, but says Beast delivers exactly what it promises: Idris Elba fighting a lion with his bare hands. It’s a ridiculous movie based on a ridiculous notion, and it fits right in with summertime movie fare, the critic says:

Beast is no great shakes, but it's also a rare enough summer movie, in that it knows its limits, it delivers on its specific promises, and it doesn't belabor the point. In some ways, though the back half of summer 2022 has felt light on new releases, Beast seems like it would be more at home as something you catch while folding laundry on a slow Sunday as opposed to paying to see it in theaters. It's dumb and silly, yes ... and that is, whether you like it or not, the entire point.

Does Beast sound like something you might want to check out? If so, you can catch it in theaters beginning Friday, August 19. Also check out some of Idris Elba’s other upcoming projects, and start planning your next trip to the theater with our 2022 Movie Release Schedule.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.