Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

The Last Lions

The Last Lions

Rated: PG 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 18, 2011 Released by: National Geographic

This striking documentary even transcends some uppity, arguably unnecessary narration by Jeremy Irons (remember The Lion King and his "Scar") that puts effective humanistic light on Africa's startling decline of lions. Those into environmental tussles, not just animalistic ones will also have interest in a compelling cinema verity survivalism.
In The Last Lions, filmed by husband/wife team Dereck and Beverly Joubert (directed by the former), a lioness (dubbed Ma di Tau, "Mother of Lions") and her three cubs are forced out of their Botswana Osavango Delta habitat.
What to do seems to be to relocate to Duba Island (where the filmmakers have made home for seven years). But, menace comes in the form of another invading (Silver) pride, humans, fire, crocodiles, as well as flooding during a rainy season and a large buffalo herd.
From watching something like this and the word-of-mouth smash March of the Penguins, one observes how a species uses intelligence to counter its naturalistic trait. Obviously, the filmmakers ascribe to the plight that Ma di Tau (representing some 20,000 left) faces and the continual threat to their demise must be halted. Most noticeably from the human trackers.
Maybe some onlookers might look at this with some cloying disdain and boredom. Yet, what the Jouberts' do to get so close to the action with (slo-mo) digital (lensing) expertise with editing of tons of footage by Susan Scott makes the experience of peril exhilarating and often poignant. The Last Lions may nestle up too much from the human standpoint, but there is much to behold through an amazing Ma di Tau, from losing a cub, to standing up to another displacing pride, and nosing up to formidable like foe; it roars with a quiet magnificence that unfairly faces so many giant African cats (Disney has their movie coming for Earth Day).

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The Last Lions        B+                  B+ 

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