Beasts of No Nation
I had rare two days off in a row this weekend and needed to fill sometime. I pulled up a Netflix and saw them advertising for Beasts of No Nation. One quick glimpse that Idris Elba was in it and I was sold. Idris is my version of Samuel L. Jackson. I will watch any movie that he is in. I took a second to check on Rotten Tomatoes and saw the audience at the time was giving it a 98%! In about a 90 seconds span I went from never hearing about the movie, to seeing all signs pointing to it being great, including getting some Oscar buzz. I got my hopes up to high. I played the movie thinking it was going to be the greatest movie since Cool Runnings.
The movie starts out painfully slow. We are introduced to a couple characters early who end up getting killed about 15 minutes later. Unclear why we needed such an introduction for a limited role. The town finds out the bad guys are coming and they get most of the women and children out thankfully, because I didn’t need to see young babies getting gunned down. His dad and brother get shot as he watches but the boy is lucky enough to escape town only to get forced to join a teenage army.
Finally, Idris appears on the screen as the kid’s new commander. It took about 20 minutes to long for him to appear in the movie. I am here for him, I want as much Idris as I can get. Idris takes the kid under his wing, they attack a lot of people, and at some point everyone abandons Idris after he appears to go crazy. Smash cut to the boy being at an orphanage and we get a couple minutes of him trying to overcome the trauma from war.
I kept my description short because if you watch the trailer it tells you all you need to know and more. The biggest problem of the movie is language. The movie starts out in some language native to Africa and the sub titles appear below so you can read to follow along. That is perfectly fine. However, at some point it switches to English, but unfortunately the main character who is a young boy is not very good at speaking it.
It makes it hard to watch because you know he is speaking English as you recognize some of the words he is saying, you just can’t understand enough to know what he is saying. It’s like when someone calls you with spotty reception and you only hear part of what they’re saying. You understand what words you hear, you just don’t get enough to form a sentence around them. I would have preferred to watch the movie in a language I didn’t know. That way I could have accepted the fact I won’t understand anything that is being said instead of trying to focus on every last syllable. I don’t like the middle ground where I understand some of it, but not all of it. They needed to keep the subtitles on the screen for the whole movie. That would have helped it quite a bit.
On a positive note it is amazing that you can make a movie like this for only 12 million dollars. That is truly incredible. Also, we see the main character take his sword and swing it at someone’s head as hard as he can. I don’t know if you consider that special effects or if the makeup person was really good but the mark it leaves behind looks so real.
Netflix has the movie rated at about 4.75/5 stars. I would give it a 2.5/5 stars. What I think happens is people are told that this is a great movie and then pretend to enjoy it so they can seem better than you because they liked it and you didn’t. When in reality it is decent, but nothing special.
If you work construction with a bunch of foreigners and understand broken English you will probably love this movie as you will be able to understand it. If you’re like me and are someone who prefers to be able to understand the movies you watch, you will think it was decent. You won’t say you wasted 2+ hours watching, but you also won’t want to watch it again. It’s just good enough to not be a waste of time which is exactly how I imagine this review to be.
I know it sounds like it I am recommending this movie even though it’s under the movie unrecommendation category so let me say this. If you are on the fence of should I see this or should I not? Don’t see it. You don’t need to spend 2+ hours on a movie where you can’t understand what is being said.