Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Last Lions – A 5 Starfish Treat!

By Perry S. Chen, Amazing Kids Movie Review Columnist



(5 out of 5 starfish)




Can you guess how much the population of African lions has dropped in the past 5 decades? The statistics may alarm you! Half a century ago, 450,000 lions roamed the vast African savannah. Now, with increasing human encroachment, less than 20,000 remain. Scientists predict lions will be eradicated from the face of Earth by 2025 if we do nothing now.

In The Last Lions, a stunning National Geographic documentary film that recently opened in select areas, a fierce mother lioness, one of the 20,000 remaining wild lions in Africa named Ma di Tau (“Mother of Lions”), is risking everything to keep her cubs alive. Stranded on an island in the middle of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, she was driven from her territory by a pride from the north, which was being forced south by human settlement. Her mate and protector was killed by the Northern Pride and she fled to a nearby island. Unfortunately, there are dangers with every step she takes, such as crocodiles, elephants, huge wild buffalo, and starvation; and, being a lone lioness she faces the danger of the northern pride, led by Silver Eye, a vicious lioness whom Ma di had partially blinded in an earlier fight, and whose sole mission was to kill Ma di’s two surviving cubs. Ma di experiences loss and victory, defeat and triumph as she struggles to survive and raise her young.

I give this film 5 out of 5 starfish, the first for a documentary! The movie is filled with drama, action, surprises, and has a lot of heart. This film shows that Mau di Tau has almost human-like emotion. The most moving scene is when the most dominant and powerful bull of the herd severely injured her cub. Mau di Tau took him head on and later formed an unlikely allegiance with her former enemy Silver Eye, to bring down the bull and avenge her cub. The saddest scene is when the bull crippled Ma di’s daughter, Ma di was forced to leave her behind despite her heartbreaking calls.

Ma de Tau and her cub in The Last Lion (photo by Dereck Joubert)

The cinematography of this film is breathtaking. Filming the lions was a risky task, and the lions were filmed from a car with no doors, roof, or windshield, as I heard on the filmmaker’s interview with NPR Fresh Air host Terry Gross last week. A lot of times, the cameras zoom in on the eyes to show how the animals are feeling. Also, the award-winning husband and wife filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert really captured the bravery of Ma di, who courageously took on the thing lions fear and detest most: water, in order to adapt to her different environment to survive.


The Last Lions filmmakers - Dereck & Beverly Joubert with lions in the background (National Geographic)



One of my favorite scenes was when the cubs played together. I bet anybody who see the adorable cubs will fall in love with them, as they roll around playing king of the hill and engaging in playful mock fights.

Moral: The mighty lions are being quickly driven to extinction along with many other endangered animals. It is up to us to save them and try to mend what we have caused.

I hope a lot of people will take actions to save the last lions before and after watching this Perrific film! Visit the official site for the story, trailer, director details and show times in your city at this link:

Copyright 2011 by Perry S. Chen


Perry S. Chen is an 11-year-old award-winning film critic, artist, entertainment personality, filmmaker and animator. He writes movie reviews for San Diego Union Tribune, Animation World Network, Amazing Kids!, and his own website Perry’s Previews ( Connect with him on Facebook: