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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Lots of violence, but also themes of wildlife conservation, honesty, communication, and teamwork -- not to mention survival and emergency skills.
Positive Role Models
Martin and Nate are both brave in the face of danger. Martin is an expert in the wildlife and landscape, Nate is a doctor with trauma medicine skills. Mer and Nora summon their courage to help each other, their dad, and their uncle. They rise to the occasion and prove that people without formal training can be helpful in emergency situations.
Majority of cast is Black -- both American and South African -- with exception of a major character who's a White South African. Teen girls act courageously to stay alive and help their father and uncle.
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Violence & Scariness
Several jump-worthy/frightening sequences when the lion appears out of nowhere, ready to kill any human in his path. Many characters die, most of them off camera, but lots of dead and dying bodies are visible, almost all with bloody wounds and some gore. The lion is often shown with a bloody mane/jaw; his mauling attacks nearly always kill, but a few times characters are moderately to severely injured. One character dies in a fire. To survive, the humans must kick, punch, and use weapons (knife, dart gun, gun) on the lion, who survives many different forms of injury. Characters mourn the loss of a wife/mother, who died of a terminal illness before the movie's story begins.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Emotional, romantic dreams where Nate looks for and eventually finds his wife.
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Infrequent use of "damn," "hell," "stupid," "liar."
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Products & Purchases
Nikon camera, iPad, Motorola, Jurassic Park tank top, Fjällräven backpack, all-terrain Toyota SUV.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Martin and Nate have drinks (and seem tipsy) at dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beast is an action survival thriller about a grieving father (Idris Elba) who must keep his two teen daughters safe from a bloodthirsty lion while on a trip to South Africa. Like other humans-vs.-beast movies (The Grey, Jurassic Park, Jaws, The Edge), the story centers on how an individual (in this case, Elba's widower doctor) must summon his resources and strengths (including his daughters) to stay alive. Expect scenes of intense violence, some with blood and occasionally featuring gore. There are also jump scares and weapons-based interactions, both between humans and between humans and the lion. There are many deaths, and dead and severely injured bodies are visible throughout the movie, with even more deaths happening off camera. The lion is frightening and often sports a bloody mouth/jaw. Although the movie is very violent, there are also clear themes about the importance of wildlife conservation, honesty, communication, and teamwork -- not to mention survival and emergency skills. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite its bloody violence and disturbing body count, this is ultimately a well-acted if predictable story about a father trying to save his daughters from a dangerous animal. Elba plays slightly against type here as a slightly nerdy and clueless father, while Copley is a gun-toting wildlife expert. Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur focuses on the relationship between Nate and his two girls, who are each struggling with the impact of their mother's illness and passing. Their grief is compounded by the fact that Nate and his wife were separated at the time of her terminal diagnosis and death. Mer is angry and resentful, while peace-keeping little sister Nora is anxious. Meanwhile, the cinematography makes good use of the landscape, alternating between wide shots of the reserve and close-ups of frightened faces, kicking legs, and hands holding weapons. There are legitimately gasp-worthy moments and several scenes in which viewers will worry that the filmmakers might do the unthinkable and kill off a major character.
The idea that the lion is a John Wick-like killer out to avenge the death of his pride (at the hands of poachers) is interesting but not compelling enough to make him less horrifying. Unlike a human revenge story, in which the vengeance-seeker might avoid or limit hurting innocents, the lion attacks all the humans it encounters, not just poachers. And since there's not a whole lot of discussion about conservation beyond a short exchange in which Nora says she's read that anti-poachers can be as ruthless in dealing with poachers as poachers are dealing with wild animals, the plot device falls flat. The idea that humans subjected the lion to their cruelty and therefore deserve his rage is untenable once the lion slaughters an entire village. While this film is far from family-friendly, there are surprisingly tender father-daughter scenes, as well as underlying messages for parents and teens -- namely to improve their communication (and survival) skills and learn how to work as a team.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.