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The Last Lions - Movie Review - 2011

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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The Last Lions - Movie Review - 2011

The Last Lions Poster Art

National Geographics Entertainment

A Fight For Survival Against Great Odds

A lone lioness and her two cubs are the stars of this dramatic documentary about survival in the wild. When her mate is killed, the lioness is left alone to protect and provide for her two infant cubs. The daunting task requires unusual cunning, extraordinary persistence, tremendous physical strength and strength of character. This lioness has all of that -- and more. She's the epitome of heroic single parenting and motherhood -- for whatever species.

Telling the Tale of The Lioness

The lioness faces enormous hardships. Her habitat is rapidly shrinking in size, other lions are competing for her territory and hunting grounds, other species threaten her cubs, drought and flooding make survival even more challenging. She must protect her cubs, yet let them investigate the world around them and teach them how to hunt and survive.

Both the plight and the imperatives of the lioness -- and her story -- are clearly illustrated in footage that captures her cunning and caring behavior for several years from the time when her cubs are born. The footage, replete with close ups of the lioness, the cubs and other wildlife, of hunts and kills, of battles to ward off marauders and of motherly nurturing, is extraordinary. It will thrill and amaze you.

Unfortunately, filmmaker Derek Jouvet, whose respect and affection for the lioness is reflected in the film, has cloaked the natural wonders he's photographed with ever present and extremely heavy voice over narration that is not only unnecessary, but quite off putting. Even more so because of Jeremy Irons' somber and portentous tone in reading it.

Telling You What To Think

The voice over not only tells you what to think, but also conveys what the lioness is thinking -- in human terms. Such anthropomorphism might work well in animated features like Bambi or Happy Feet. Unfortunately it's not uncommon in animal documentaries, where it usually diminishes the impact of the wildlife encounter. As it does in The Last Lions. If you watch this film on DVD, hit the mute button and let the lioness speak for herself through her actions. She's quite eloquent.

However, the nattation is quite effective in delivering the message that the population of lions in the wild has been drastically diminished over the past decade, and that the big cats are endangered. Do take heed.

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Film Details:

  • Title: The Last Lions - 2010
  • Director: Derek Joubert
  • Release Date (Germany): February 18, 2011
  • Running Time: 88 mins.
  • MPAA Rating: PG, for some violent images involving wildlife
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Locations: Botswana
  • Language: English
  • Production Country: USA
  • Production Company: National Geographic
  • Distribution Company: National Geographic Entertainment

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