lionofjudah lionofjudah
Feature Film

The Lion of Judah

Variety is reporting on an animation boom in South Africa, focusing its article around the country’s first CGI feature, The Lion of Judah. The “faith-based” film is being readied for a U.S. release in November, through a new company called Animated Family Films headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida.

The movie stars the voice of Ernest Borgnine (Spongebob’s own Mermaid Man) and is being produced at Cape Town’s Character Matters studio. According to the Variety article, the studio is desperate for qualified animators to join their team. One look at the trailer will demonstrate how desperate. The one sheet poster is also pretty bad.

Which reminds me – my Worst Cartoons Ever! screening is Friday night, 9pm at the San Diego Comic Con. Don’t miss it!

  • I could almost, almost see that appearing stateside. I mean, if we can create Fly Me To The Moon, than it isn’t so bad for a South African upstart to create something like The Lion of Judah.

  • Bernhard C. Moffitt

    Why…why? Why are so many, many faith-based movies or shows so, so bad? I mean, that lamb? Half the time I was thinking it was some lion-lamb abomination against nature.

    This just makes me sad to see.

  • That’s within limits, but they’re probably late to catch the faith-based movie wave.

    Whatever… it’s unbecoming to keep sniffing about things that don’t meet our high American standards.

  • I think they’re in more need of typographers.

  • Why are the cow, the horse and the pig all screaming at me?

  • fishmorgjp

    Overdramatic music… brief-cut scenes interspersed with sections of overdramatic tag lines (read, of course. in that generic trailer announcer voice) floating towards the viewer in white type against black background… they sure have the language of trailers down pat!

  • Dock Miles

    >Why…why? Why are so many, many faith-based movies or shows so, so bad?

    Captive audience. If you get it to the screen, certain crowds will always come. So you can aim really low, and if you get the arrow off, you will hit the target. Also, very “long tail” audience who doesn’t care much how old something is.

    And remember, getting the Word out is, if anything, more important than making art of the message.

    “So whaddaya wanna do t’night Marty?”

    “I donno J.C., whadda YOU wanna do?”

  • Wow…from the Wild Bunch, Marty and the Poseidon Adventure to movies like Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders and this. Why can’t Ernest Borgnine just retire before his messes up his career even more?

  • Mark

    Um… when you’re doing the roll of celebrity “voice talents” in your trailer, should each name mentioned be followed by a clip of the character saying something in that celebrity’s voice?

  • Tim Schuit

    I laughed hard at the “story of a lifetime” tagline.

    Because, you know….your life will never be the same after watching a run of the mill animated film involving barnyard animals acting out a mythical bible tale.

  • Rat

    This proves there is no God.

  • h park

    Granted that I’m from Protestant family, I don’t like faith based shows and movies for being preachy and having overtly one dimensional characters and settings. Heck Lord of hte Rings and Narnia have christian values, but at least they’re not too direct.

  • FP

    I wanna see those animals eating the little screaming Veggie Tales guys. Animals do that. They eat vegetables.

  • Karen

    “faith based?” What the HECK is that? Looks to me like they’ll need faith it’s not laughed off the screen!

  • Karen
  • foxpaw

    ja. why is it that the faith-based groups just can’t get it together on the animation front. “Jonah, a Veggietales Movie” was actually pretty good, even though it was just an expanded VT production. Good characters, decent animation, interesting plot. If Mel Gibson can pull off a “Passion” and make it a blockbuster, that just shows that faith-based work can and does equal quality. Sad-to-say, but most denominations are just too scared to produce something edgy … we Christians have to look for “message” in the secular films, ’cause the stuff most believers produce is just dreck!

  • dronon

    It looks like they’re re-using many of the same character models from another one of their films, Once Upon a Stable, judging from the clip in the trailer section.

  • Isaac

    There’s an animated picture coming out with the moniker The Wild Bunch. Maybe Ernest Borgnine can reprise his role.

  • No the LORD is lookink down and say’in WTH ????

  • hellohue

    I know it’s good to be direct and concise and all that, but really, calling your company ‘Animated Family Films’ ?

    Moves like this just kick animation back into being a genre. For idiots. People who go to see this are idiots. And the people who made it and are distributing it are idiots too. Rich idiots for a time, I’m sure, but idiots all the same.

  • Some Guy

    Superman comic artist Ed Mcguinness , last I heard, was preparing a Christian comic book about a character called “Lion of Judah.” I hope nobody gets the two mixed up.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    Where to begin? How about with the fact that in Bible times donkeys generally DIDN’T PULL CARTS?!? They were just loaded up. And crating the lamb/lion around as if it were the Lost Ark? What’s up with that? You’ll note that there’s not even a HINT as to what the story itself is about. Is the lamb deluded? Is he going to end up as someone’s Passover main course? Help me out here! You just can’t call it “faith-based” and think “Well, we’ve marketed it.”

    And for American evangelicals, Sandy Patti will be a more recognizable name than Ernest Borgnine.

    Ecclesiastes 9:4 says it’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion. This thing looks way more like the former than the latter.

  • The HOW IT GETS DONE link on their web page was actually really good. Through and nicely put together. It just shows you it takes a lot of effort to make a bad film.

  • Because the new technology allows anybody(and I do mean anybody) to make a movie, this is the result.

    At least the old model required people have talent. Now, all you need is financing and work stations.

    So, why is anybody surprised?

  • And what with the pig ???? Jews had nothig to do with pigs !!! PS I’m a Chistian too !!!!!!


    After the line “A story that moves the hearts of every man I expected them to say: “This, however, is not that story”

  • Keith Paynter

    Generic trailer voiceover…blecch!

    It needs the late Don LaFontaine: “In a world…” – that would make it a must-see!

  • I’ll refrain from criticizing the theme of the movie.

    I’ll just say that the trailer is exceptionally bad. Like some others have pointed out, it completely failed to introduce us to any of the characters, not to mention the plot itself. Perhaps they thought that the title is self-explanatory enough?

    Why do studios feel the need to promote every movie like is the greatest epic story of all time? Why do they feel the need to mention the studio’s past “triumphs”? “From the creators of ‘Blah'” feels like the collateral you need to request a loan in a bank!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    God those animal faces are scary, that horse in particular looks like he’s about to bite my nose off!

    > It needs the late Don LaFontaine: “In a world…” – that would make it a must-see!

    He’s dead, how sad. :-(

  • This looks like a nightmarish cartoon version of “Jesus Camp.” And why is that pig yelling at me?! I don’t even eat bacon.

    I’m going to stay optimistic. I’ll bet this is a great movie for Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans.

  • ZAR

    Ah come on, don’t be too hard on that studio! Entertainment for children, you know. Cheap movies for the quick buck.

    And regarding the quality of animation… well, every age has its cheap-ass animation studio. Now you know the name. ;)


  • I expected something much worse…

  • Some Chick

    “Why are the cow, the horse and the pig all screaming at me?”

    There is something unspeakably terrifying about human-like teeth in an otherwise realistically rendered CGI animal’s mouth.

  • Demetre

    I don’t know what everyone is talking about. This is the greatest film of all time! Citizen Kane, Godfather who? Trust me on this, there’s nothing more original and innovative than Barnyard animals. I suspect this movie will break all box office weekend records.

  • doug holverson

    Wasn’t there a non-so-popular Rankin-Bass animated Christmas special were the manger animals got to talk (and sing and dance), but only on the night that Jesus was born?

  • Jeremy

    Nope, it isn’t going to challenge Pixar’s dominance. And I won’t be watching it.

    But then I got to thinking…are there any other studios in Africa that can do better??? If not, then why are we being so hard on them? They’re just trying to do what they do, and if it takes producing several movies of this quality to improve their local industry then so be it.

    I say good luck to them.

  • Rio

    Usually the clips chosen for trailers have action, suspense, or drama. Not one shot in the trailer possessed any of those qualities. It was more like, there’s a horse, and there’s a rat, and there’s a pig, and there’s a crate.

    Looks as though this film that supposed to be a Bible story will not actually have anything “bible” or “story” in it. It will be a watered down showing of clumsy barnyard animals. Is this the sequel to Barnyard?

  • Reasonable Calvin

    To be fair, the studio probably had a 10th of the staff, budget and time that the bigger Animation Studios have for a feature, not to mention America has a good 70 year head start as far as producing full length feature films, so no Jeremy, they will not be challenging Pixar/Disney’s dominance as you say, but i bet that was never their intention.

    Sure the trailer isn’t the best, but who is to say that the film will be that bad. If any of you were real supporters and fans of Animation you would be celebrating the fact that animation is starting to flourish in places as remote as South Africa, regardless of whether their first attempt at a full length feature is a solid gold block buster or not. It is easy to judge them from behind your monitors in comfortable 1st World American suburbia, but what does that achieve.

    This is a film aimed at a young audience, made on a very low budget, over a very short space of time and with very few staff, it was never going to meet all you of you critics high expectations, but i get the feeling from your ignorant and naive comments that not many films do.

  • Well said, Calvin. This diatribe of comments reminds me of politicians who blast a book written by someone from the other party even though they have not and never will read the book.

    Incidentally, the film was good enough for Paramount Pictures to pick up and for Ruth Graham to promote.

  • Well, lets shed a little light on the situation, from someone who actually works at the studio who animated “The Lion of Judah”.
    First of all thank you to all who posted comments. A quick news update is that “The Lion of Judah” is being re rendered for stereoscopic theatres, another first for Africa. In doing so we’ve had a look at what we could do to upgrade the movie from the original renders (which is what you see in the trailer). This is by no means an apology for what was produced, but rather an indication of what we’ve been able to achieve in such a short period of time. I.e. “The Lion of Judah” was animated, textured, lit, setup and rendered in 1 year and 7 months. Now consider our render capacity at the tip of Africa and not a comfortable Pixar render farm. Why 1 year and 7 months? It’s all the budget allowed for. We did fly over Tom Roth and Eric Lessard (If you don’t know them I wouldn’t post a critical comment about animation on this forum) to help , advise and do a skills transfer to animators in the studio, of course they themselves animated scenes in the movie.
    As a first we are proud of the fact that we were able to achieve what we did. It amazed me how many people said it couldn’t be done, we did it! The Lion of Judah is a work of blood, sweat and tears for us, we are not out to win international awards, but I think you might just be surprised. The development of this movie has had huge positive consequences in our animation industry here in South Africa and we will continue to develop animated movies for years to come regardless.
    As for the trailer itself, we had no hand in that, it was cut and produced in the USA.
    Look out for the upgraded movie in stereoscopic (something we were able to do in 3 months, again budget, but pretty good if I do say so myself.)

    @ZAR, our fellow South African, I personally invite you to pop around to the studio for a tour and a coffee, in fact, any of you guys ever in Cape Town, RSA, you are all welcome! Come and see for yourself who we are, what we do and how passionate we are about animation. Animation is not only the domain of USA, India and Korea, its thriving and growing here in Africa aswell, whether you’re happy about it or not.

  • Deryck Broom

    Hi there Jerry and others

    Thank you very much for your posting and publicity and to all who have responded, your points of view are respected and appreciated. I have been extremely interested in the tracking the comments over the last seven months and hope when the actual trailer and the final rendered version of the film are released some of you might be pleasantly surprised, particularly you Jerry. I do hope this provisional pre-final rendered trailer that we had to put together before all the shots were completed, does not prevent you from going to watch the film, I think you might like it. Keep up the great work in bringing attention to the growing animation market in Africa, and let’s hope this film opens up amazing opportunities for even bigger and better animated features to come out of this great continent.

    Deryck Broom
    Director – ‘The Lion of Judah’

  • We would like to thank Ivan and Deryck for providing their comments on the technical aspect of the movie, what has been accomplished in such a short period of time. As they said the movie will be available for 3D stereoscopic.

    The final renders of the movie, as also mentioned, will be different from what you see in this teaser trailer. Jerry and visitors of this blog, you are more than welcome to check it out :).

    The Lion of Judah team.

  • Talia Morenzo

    The Lion of Judah looks, to me, like a great kids movie and family friendly as well. We dont see a whole lot of family friendly movies coming out anymore, even kids movies all have name calling, rude humor and bullying altho some do have good messages but are still not teaching our kids anything just entertaining them. It seems to me that Lion of Judah is trying to fill teh soul as well as the mind and attract our entertainment needing humanness. Cant wait to take my kids!

  • Marty02

    This movie reminds me of the Passion of Christ movie but seems more oriented for children. I think this is a great learning tool for kids to learn about the bible. I cant wait for it to come out so i can take my kids niece and nephew to go and see it. It is not only a movie for kids but one for “kids” of all ages. Love this!!!

  • Eric Graf

    These planted comments are almost as inept as the movie is.
    I hope your kids enjoy the hilarious fart joke.