If seeing Idris Elba punch a tiger sounds like a hoot, you’re going to dig what’s atop of the specials board at the Universal Studios Cafe this week.
Idris Elba anchors a South African-set throwback about a widow touring the biodiversity hotspot to capture its natural beauty and many beasts with his two children. While on a trek, Nate – accompanied by local, and long-time friend Martin (Sharlto Copley) – encounters a village of slain locals and soon enough, a ferocious rebel lion.
An aesthetically-blessed B-movie creature feature, this “Jaws in the Jungle” may be somewhat predictable, a little ludicrous at times, and not at all ground-breaking (after all, Stephen Hopkins’ The Ghost and the Darkness tread similar ground back in the 90s), but like those popcorn-primed crowd-pleasers of the 80s and 90s, Beast is ridiculously entertaining. From its matinee idol lead (and to a lesser extent, his likeable ‘buddy’ played by Copley), the fingernail-chomping pace, remarkable sound design, and magnificent villain, Beast is so effective it’ll turn you off the idea of an African safari permanently.
Orphan : First Kill
Take the twist away from Chubby Checker, and his roster’s somewhat lacking. Does the same go for Orphan: First Kill, now that fans of the original are well aware of the punchline?
Surprisingly, no – though, to be fair, the scares do overshadow the suspense this time. William Bell Brent’s prequel tells the backstory of young (hee-hee) Esther as she escapes from a mental hospital in Astonia and heads to America. It’s there that she decides to masquerade as the missing daughter of a wealthy family.
Anchored once again by a truly astonishing and sinister performance by Isabelle Fuhurman, this pitch-black follow-up mightn’t encompass the surprises of the original – especially now that the title character’s big secret is well known to cinema goers – but its imaginative direction, some absolutely jaw-dropping moments of suspense and terror, and clever plotting by David Coggeshall, helps it stand out from the peers.
Grim but good.