I was sceptical of watching this film at first. It looked like a low budget, and amateur attempt for Netflix to get bigger in their original film business. I went to IMDb to see what people had to say, noticed it got decent reviews and decided to give it a shot. Let me say, this is one of the best films I have ever seen within this genre.Without spoiling anything, I will say that this is about the general civil warfare that exists in Africa, something most western, shelterd Americans have never even fathomed and have only learned about through movies. The film doesn't specify what part of <more>
Africa it is, but you know it is something that is real.Netflix doesn't hide anything about the realities of what happens to families, children, fathers, and brothers, as well as the numbness the war leaders on both sides, really have toward excessive and brutal violence. Imagine: the film shows all of this through the eyes of a boy, probably only 12 years old. He is forced into a mercenary squad after his family is torn apart, and he experiences something that is even darker than hell itself.That young boy, played by Abraham Attah, puts on a performance I have never seen before in a child actor. Given the mature content of the film, it is quite unbelievable that the torn emotions any child would have, given this situation, is so clearly displayed and authentic. Every scene just tore at my soul; I wondered if it was really acting. And he wasn't the only one; women, children, and the "extras" in the film: are these people really doing their first major film? Each scene left me speechless.The emotional involvement I had with this film as a viewer is astonishing. I felt ashamed at myself for thinking my life had problems, for thinking my life was hard. I felt foolish realizing my immaturity in life, and felt embarrassed for us as America in general, for caring so much about things so materialistic and shallow, when people in Africa and other parts of the world, no doubt , are fighting for their lives every day, being torn apart by corrupt leaders and greed.To compare this film, it is similar to The City of God and Blood Diamond, but in an of itself, it is certainly unique. It's a masterpiece.
Amazing Movie by Idris Elba (by rohitkhanna-33714)
I loved this movie. Idris and the little cute boy together are a perfect combination. Two excellent actors with great depth and character. its a thriller for sure. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. Also the boy in the movie is my little cousin in real life. he did a great job as well. All in all its a very good date movie. A must see and go watch it on Netflix and see it. It is also a good movie to see with your family, sisters, mother, brother. Its a nice drama thriller. It will keep you wondering what is going to happen next. And Idris is non stop eye candy. The movie was full of <more>
surprises. It is like nothing that you would expect. Its full of great actors a great script, great direction. I give it TEN stars all the way.
It's not often that a film induces a genuine change of heart in me, but this one did. I used to simply hate and despise the raggedy rebel armies of West Africa with their child soldiers, their cruel atrocities and apparent primitive mindless violence towards civilians in general. But this film showed me a side to them that I had never considered. I found myself feeling sorry for them, and the cynical way in which they were used. I realized that they must also have courage, and discipline, and belief in the cause. Like any fighters, they must advance into deadly danger. The lead actor is a <more>
child, yet more than holds his own with Idris Elba, a great actor by any measure. By the end I was shaken. I will not forget this film. And I will never think the same way again about the tragic and pointless wars of Africa.
i loved the movie not because its shot in my country but the content of the story and cast was done spot on. I just pray that all political leaders take a cue from this movie and past ones in this format not to plunge the world into this form of darkness.Best Indie Movie for sure @ the Oscars Idris you rocked it. This is a must watch for every household doesn't matter if you black,white,Asian,hispanic etc it can happen to any of us,some children are really suffering to PTSD due to political injustices that has led to war in many countries,lets be tolerant of each other and wish for a <more>
Incredible, powerful must see of a movie. The performances were outstanding namely Idris Elba and Abraham Attah , the cinematography was beautiful,and the story was heart-wrenching! A must see and very well may be the best film of the year. One negative however was that a character really stood out to me for having a poor performance, besides that it was nothing but gold. Hopefully Netflix will produce more and more Netflix original, stunning films. Cannot stress enough how much of a "Must see" this film is. 9/10 LSS: Go watch it. I cannot think of a movie that has come out this <more>
year that could compete on this level of being an emotional, powerful, enlightening powerhouse.
I am stunned, turmoiled, and loving film again. Ever experienced a film so captivating that all becomes deathly still and silent and no one dares to move? Bladders agonisingly clenched, popcorn unmolested, lovers ignored? I've seen it twice before; Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. Meet #3. To think I nearly ducked out of this in favour of a computer game?!This film opened my eyes in a way a thousand news reports could never do. I'm still reeling from the raw, unapologetic story told to me through the eyes of the heartbroken protagonist, Agu Abraham Attah . I felt his <more>
pain. What an accolade for a child actor,'I felt your pain'? This kid has a naturalness rarely seen in even the most seasoned of performers. Just recounting it a few hours later is bringing an aching lump to my throat. A brave and accomplished film. And now I know of the hardships and difficulties experienced in the making of it my hat comes off and I bow to a master; Screen Writer & Director Mr. Fukunaga. I hope the years to come recognise this as a true work of the story teller's art. The original novel's author, Uzodinma Iweala, must be proud and gratified that his message is now out there? He's written a fable of real worth and power that has been thoughtfully rendered. The respect I have for Mr.Fukunaga has grown massively. I've just read that some of the cast were a nightmare that forced constant rewrites by having tantrums, getting wasted or disappearing half way through the scene or shoot; and that locations could be 'chaotic'on a good day. To get through this film is tough, many will cry, I did. Most will be shocked. If not they could be the 1% that are psychopaths, call 999, NOW! I met Agu's family and loved them. I wanted to invite myself 'round and join in the fun. Their decency and values shine through in a relaxed, un-schmaltzy way despite recent hardships. A distant civil war that can't quite be ignored is perfectly captured in little snapshots of daily life that bring a knowing smile and a chuckle. They're in The Buffer Zone, they're protected by the UN troops based right outside, they're safe...The manic free-fall into chaos and bloodshed is immediate, brutal and frightening. Just as it would have been for Agu and his family. Plans and best intentions are destroyed; random evil and bad luck are the only constant. Imagine being a child of about ten finding yourself bound and kneeling with a few surviving neighbours? You're about to be executed? You're so scared you can't breathe from panic? Those that protected you are dead or about to be murdered with you. All within an hour of life being good; you laughed with impish glee moments ago, peeing on your older brother's head from the roof. This is where Agu's descent into hell starts. Every bit of decency and respect instilled by a strong family and their love aren't just eroded. They're smashed, trampled, gutted, spat on and ground into the mud with a rifle butt and sadistic grin. For some reason he's spared death. He wanders the forest, alone and starving, eating leaves and poisonous roots, he IS going to die, and soon. Rescue arrives with the foulest of deals. The very same evil that inflicted this suffering and stole his family finds him, and it's recruiting. An abused, toughened, obedient and brainwashed Agu is let loose on the world. His family is now 'The Battalion'. His brothers are skilled butchers in a planned campaign that becomes one of attrition and terror. They're well trained and willing killers, all of them. Each dragging the others further down into a seething pit of rape and summary murder. Rewarded, cajoled and abused by their new father 'The Commandant' Idris Elba in equal measure. Idris' own unraveling and end is left wide open but we can guess his fate was probably quite karmic. I hated him. Again this is testimony to the skill of the performances and Mr. Fukunaga's direction. Some of the jungle shots echo Terrence Mallick's close up's of the pure, innocent wildlife in The Thin Red Line. Natural tranquility filled with exotic birdsong and mating calls, life is happily thriving....and about to be torn to shreds and silenced forever by the horsemen of the apocalypse at full gallop and backed up by artillery. Are we left with any hope at the end? Maybe. But for Agu all hope has been lost, along with his once sensitive and happy soul. The cold unblinking eyes of a predatory shark stare out from a small boy and size up an orphanage's counselor. She gently digs but he doesn't hurry to speak, the counselor calmly questions but gets no answers, just silence..........all the while the spoken narrative in Agu's head is scathing and dismissive Not verbatim, just the essence "You have no idea about what I've done, how could you,stupid b1tch ? I could rape and kill you". Then more silence....... "....I saw terrible things, I did terrible things....I am some sort of beast and a Devil, I am all of these things....but I also had a mother, father, brothers and sisters......once.....they loved me........". BOOM! I cried like a baby.After seeing this milestone I read some reviews. Most loved it, however some were so scorning I wondered whether they'd actually seen the same film? Ignore the snobs and Academy. This is a must watch film, I promise....Feb 2016; As expected, the Hollywood 'Empire' ignored this, so no Academy back scratching. Other 'big' awards tip the slightest of nods with 'best supporting actor' nominations for Idris Elba. I think they're too dismissive of internet companies like Netflix creating good independent TV and Film. They can't control it so ignore it and hope it'll go away.'Empires' decline and die by ignoring the new competition.
To be remembered as one of the better war films of the decade. (by Sergeant_Tibbs)
Originally known for his first two films Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre, Cary Fukunaga was put on the map for most by his audacious work on the first season of HBO's True Detective last year, unconventionally directing every episode. He got all-time worthy performances from Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey and boasted a palpable bleak mood from his photography, earning an Emmy for the episode "Who Goes There" with that captivating long take. He could do whatever he wanted after that, and so, tip toeing past comfortable studio gigs that may or may not have landed on his desk, he <more>
ventured out to the African jungles with Idris Elba for the most stressful shoot since Apocalypse Now. Catching malaria, filling in for an injured camera operator, and constantly rewriting the script due to the actors dropping out, the haphazard conditions shows on the film for better and for worse.Coppola's film is an apt point of comparison for the effect of Beasts of No Nation, as well as Platoon and The Thin Red Line. Battered by explosions and gunfire, you come out of the film wearing the same thousand yard stare as its characters. At that point, it's easy to forget the delights of the first ten minutes as Abraham Attah's Agu playfully hustles his living, selling shells of television sets with his friends. It's not a perfect life, but the energy is reminiscent of the less dangerous sections of City of God. It's only from that light that the darkness hits hardest and invests you in Agu's plight and losses. However, this is as rocky as the roller-coaster gets. The next 2 hours is an absorbing barrage of misery and brutal dilemmas. The narrative thread is very loose, and perhaps some is lost in translation with the character's thick accents, but this is part of its point, especially in utilising child soldiers who won't know the ins and outs of what's going on anyway.This aimlessness of the mission and the way that the war is so much bigger than the soldiers and battalions demonstrates that there is no way into peace from war. The kids are fighting for a future that they won't be able to find solace in, neither from eventual living and economical conditions, nor inner peace from the atrocities they've committed. These bleak ideas hit hard. And like Malick's The Thin Red Line, a relationship with God in war is challenged. It's questioned whether it's possible or fair to have spiritual happiness after such sins. There is very poor foresight in war, and after only briefly touching a jarring scene where they visit the higher ups, it benefits no-one on the battleground. The film never preaches these messages, instead relying on the fact that we know how heartbreakingly true it is despite how far removed most of us will be.Abraham Attah absolutely disappears into his role. He's not showy, but just completely immersed in the film whether he's soaking in events or lashing out against them. He's easily the biggest discovery here. However, I expected great things from Elba after the hype and while he is good, it wasn't the tour de force performance I anticipated. That's just not how the character ended up being written. He has memorable moments but he teeters undefinably on the line between a manipulative villain and a manipulative mentor. He's no doubt an opportunist, but the film doesn't explore his character to the full extent, and the most dramatic moments are quite familiar as they're staples in other war films. Beasts stands out by having such a young boy other end of those dilemmas. Elba is perhaps too polished to go with the inherent rawness of the rest of the cast.Fukunaga's cinematography is quite good, not boasting the same tricks as True Detective, but also clearly battling against the elements. It certainly has atmosphere. The style favours ambient music over montages of the war scenes and while that makes it flow together it also means that its surprises fall by the periphery. I can imagine that this will play well on Netflix, granted you give it full attention on a big HD television. The cinema projection does suffer from added graininess but that is rarely a problem via the internet and should compliment Fukunaga's cinematography a little more. I imagine that it will garner a divided reaction, with some finding it too hard to bare through the whole thing, but I can't imagine it getting much Oscar traction based on passion alone. It will be a pleasant and worthy surprise if it does score any nominations. At least an admirable effort that will be being remembered as one of the most notable war films of this decade.8/10Read more @ The Awards Circuit http://www.awardscircuit.com/
A harrowing but fascinating story, and one of the best war films of the century (by themadmovieman)
This is quite simply one of the best war films of the 21st Century. Netflix's first outing on the big screen is a huge success thanks to an absolutely harrowing tale of conflict that makes for one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking movie experiences you've had in a long time.The story follows this young boy, Agu, as he becomes deeper and deeper involved in the rebel army under the wing of the Commandant, played by Idris Elba. Both of these performances are simply excellent. Elba is often terrifying as the warmongering troop leader, and his unnerving performance is key to <more>
making this such an unsettling and disturbing film.However, even Idris Elba is outshone by the stunning performance given by the young Abraham Attah, who plays Agu. Attah does a brilliant job at showing his character's transformation over the course of the story, from an innocent young boy to a hardened warrior in one of the most brutal wars on the planet.This ties in perfectly, then, with the main theme of the film, which is all about the way that war destroys innocence entirely and replaces it with only doom and despair. In that, you can see that this is clearly an anti-war film, but it fortunately doesn't present itself so much as that, only giving you its powerful message if you concentrate hard enough and look for the details telling you about the destruction that war has brought to this place.I say that because this film is, on the whole, not the most fast- paced, and if you watch it with your brain turned off, you'll likely be bored, because it's quite long, and hasn't got much action at all, it's the power and emotion of the underlying themes that provides the horrifying punch that makes this so compelling and upsetting.Cary Joji Fukunaga's directing is also stunning. As well as making a simply beautiful film to look at, the way he directs every scene works brilliantly in tandem with whatever the film is trying to say. There are so many astonishing long shots of individuals' faces, particularly focused on Agu, and they just have such an incredible emotional power when you really look deep into their situation.Abraham Attah's performance as a young boy who has clearly been through hell is of course integral to making that emotion clear, but the inventive and beautiful directing really aggrandises that feeling of total despair and loss of innocence, which is why this film is just such an incredible one to watch.
Greetings again from the darkness. Cary Joji Fukunaga has quickly established himself as an expert storyteller with his previous writing and directing of SIN NOMBRE 2009 , JANE EYRE 2011 and the fascinating and conversation-sparking first season of "True Detective" he did not direct the much-maligned Season Two . He goes even deeper and darker this time by adapting Uzodinma Iweala's novel about a child soldier.When first we meet Agu, he is but an enterprising and fun-loving kid who thrives on mischief such as trying to sell "Imagination TV" – the empty shell of a <more>
console TV, complete with Agu and his buddies acting out scenes for those who peer through the picture tube opening. Agu describes himself as "a good boy from a good family", and we believe him.Somewhere in Africa is all we know about the location, and soon enough Agu's village is under siege and he is separated from his mother, and forced to stay behind with the men – including his father and big brother. More terror forces Agu alone into the forest until he is brought into a mostly young group of rebel forces led by the Commandant Idris Elba . It's around this time that Agu begins "talking" to God through voice over narration that allows viewers to understand what's going on inside Agu's head – often quite contrary to what is happening on the outside as he transforms from mischievous kid to dead-eyed child soldier. When Agu stops speaking to God, we understand that he believes he no longer deserves to be heard, but his words to the universe directed to his mother let us know, this boy has not yet lost his soul.Though we never understand the war, or even who is fighting whom, this uncertainty is designed to help us better relate to Agu. He may be a tough-minded soldier, but we also never forget that he is mostly a little boy hoping to re-connect with his mother. Idris Elba plays the Commandant as part father-figure, part war lord, and part cult leader. He is a menacing presence one moment and a soothing voice of reason the next. When we and Agu learn the full story of his multiple sides, we are both sickened and disheartened. It's the performances of both Elba and newcomer Abraham Attah as Agu that make this such a devastating and fascinating movie to watch, and it's the filmmaking of Fukunaga that keeps our eyes glued to the screen when we would just as soon turn away.