I feel bad that this is as close as most Americans will come to seeing African Cinema, because this is NOT African Cinema, not in my book. It is some kind of product made for the USA market. This is African Cinema: Ousmane Sembène, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Haile Gerima, Ben Diogaye Beye, Souleymane Cisse, Sarah Maldoror, Yor-El Francis, Moussa Toure, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Gaston Kabore, Joseph Gai Ramaka...
A critic of its time once said that "Saving Private Ryan" did the dirty work of making war and violence ugly again and I believe that this film is the regeneration of that principle. An absolutely gutting movie.
Idris Elba turns from charismatic leader to snubbed older brother/father to child soldiers, in a film that in many of its editing decisions admirably focuses attention onto the latter while the former smoulders with growing resentment. The childrens' abandonment, too, is emphasised memorably by intelligent use of distant camera shots in many of the scenes in the forests 3.5*
This is heavy stuff for a Hollywood film, but the constant onslaught of brutality and tragedy is juxtaposed with beautiful camerawork and impressive performances from Idris Elba and Abraham Attah. The shot of Agu walking through the red-walled trenches in knee-deep water was one of the best cinematic sequences I have seen this year.
POWERFUL! Performances, colors and details are SOBERB! Even more intense when had something writed at the background about hope. Its a brutal movie that delivered more than I expected and reminds us that some of the world really sucks and we're looking the other way. “A boy is harmless? Does the boy have two eyes to see? The boy has two hands to strangle and fingers to pull triggers. That boy is very dangerous.” !!!
Tense and unflinching drama here with subject matter that will hold very few surprises for fans of Johnny Mad Dog or War Witch. Where those take a more sophisticated cerebral approach, Beasts offers relief adding a satisfying emotional resolution in the form of a confessional. Abraham Attah is mesmerising to watch. There's a nice nod to the art photography of Richard Mosse too. 3.5 stars
Masterfully crafted, with compelling performances and a beautiful style. But, ultimately this was a little hollow given the subject matter – especially compared to similar efforts such as War Witch and Johnny Mad Dog (the most interesting entry of them all).
An audacious project that proves the excellence of Idris Elba as a method actor and Fukunaga's continued competence since the outstanding Season One of 'True Detective'. Historical accuracy regarding a specific African civil war would have reinforced the credibility of this daring project, but instead, it lies alongside films like 'Blood Diamond' - dramatic, absorbing but arguably caricatured by its generalities.