purkka’s review published on Letterboxd:
Badly acted with terrible dialogue, barely has a plot, written and directed by the whims of wild animals. Utterly sublime. Pure cinema.
Watching Roar, like approaching a lion at the zoo, is an experience that makes you simultaneously very aware of two things: 1) holy shit, that's a dangerous predator 2) awwww, cat! It really captures the inherent contradiction of being a big cat enjoyer. Lnions... Tigews... Sneps.... they're just HUGE kittens..... and they could murder you in an instant if they wanted to. But I would still like to pet them!!! I mean not really I guess, I think I'm that conscious of the mortality of my fragile, meaty body? But they're still cool, fluffy, cute, fun kitties!
This basic tension forms the blueprint for the entire film. Sometimes it's shot like a horror movie (and there are actually some functionally suspenseful sequences, like when the family first enters the house), sometimes it's a cat video of silly lions playing around. And in some scenes, like when the cats ransack the house, it's both simultaneously. Even if they might just be a natural result of filming dozens of big cats hanging out, the haphazard tonal shifts feel purposeful – maybe it helps that the characters, who barely resemble humans, respond to every situation in a way that seems completely arbitrary. Sometimes they are deathly afraid of the lions, sometimes they regard being attacked and pursued by them as kind of inconvenient. Hate it when a lion is biting my head and won't let go lol!
It's undeniably one of those movies where the real-life context forms an integral part of the text. Watching the film, you find yourself constantly wondering if what you're seeing is one of the numerous real injuries the cast and crew suffered from during the production. And the setpieces, even if nothing special by themselves, feel a lot more impressive when you consider the inherent challenges of shooting big cats who sometimes attack you. I'm pretty astonished that the film is as coherent as it is! Sure, Martin Scorsese might be a great director, but did he ever direct a movie constantly surrounded by lions? Didn't think so.
I'm so glad this movie exists because if it didn't, there would be no moral way to advocate for its creation, and no kind of computer effect can replicate the effect of watching real big cats maul real people. But it exists, and we get to enjoy it. Sorry for the 100+ guys who got injured making it though! At least nobody died!