Parents' Guide to

The Last Lions

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Visually stunning nature docu has some upsetting scenes.

Movie PG 2011 88 minutes
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Is It Any Good?

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Kids say (2):

The Jouberts have a beautiful style, and it's easy to fall for their lyrical visuals of a lioness' life on the Delta. They obviously love their subject matter, and they make the wetlands come alive. It's always amazing when a nature documentary can be as suspenseful as a fictional thriller, but since Ma Di Tau's story deals with universal matters of motherhood, life, and death, it's not all that surprising that audiences will find themselves biting their nails and possibly even crying during certain heartbreaking scenes. Many shots are so perfect that they seem almost staged -- but of course, that's impossible considering that the cast is carnivorous animals, not Hollywood actors or computer-generated creatures.

Some of what makes the movie so memorable also makes it difficult to watch. This isn't the typical "isn't nature beautiful and wonderful" tale. Irons' melodramatic narration anthropomorphises Ma Di Tau's quest for survival to an off-putting degree -- no, Jeremy, we will never comprehend animal "grief," just as we can never comprehend how a mother could leave behind her dying baby. And Ma Di Tau's suffering is inconsolably never-ending, even if it's also the way of the wild. At the end, we feel a glimmer of hope that we should be doing something, anything to help the African cats, even if the Jouberts don't spell out exactly how we can help -- other than text $10 to a charity. Still, it's important to know that the King of the Jungle could be permanently dethroned quite soon if we don't intervene.

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