“The Lion of Judah” opens today

For those keeping track, Rocky Mountain Pictures is opening The Lion of Judah in limited U.S. release today – and I understand they may qualify it for an Oscar. We reported on this flick two years ago but I don’t think we posted the new trailer (above).

Variety just reviewed it, calling it:

…a poorly animated, anthropomorphic animal-slapstick farce that just happens to take place during the crucifixion of Christ… the juxtaposition of pratfalls and fart jokes with the solemn depiction of the torture and execution of the Son of God makes for a truly bizarre experience, and one that some might find borderline objectionable.

Oh my! The film opens in 2D in Orlando Florida, Vancouver BC and Ontario California (AMC Ontario Mills 30) and other locations this weekend, and supposedly in 3D a few weeks later. If anyone is brave enough to see it, let us know how it goes.


  • Chris Sobieniak

    I’m not sure what I just watched, can someone explain it to me? :-)

    • http://www.sneezemeaway.com/ Ryan G

      Well, you see, there’s this lamb who…um…wants to be a lion, yes a lion. Then it is sentenced to be sacrificed, and some other animals try to save it, which probably means that some other poor lamb will be sacraficed instead. Oh, and then there’s Jesus in it…ahhh forget it I have no idea either.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I saw the cross and thought, yeah, this had to go there!

  • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

    wow that was pretty bizarre… I bet this will do good business amongst it’s chosen audience IE: religious barm pots.

    From the title I was hoping for a Haile Selassie theme

    • Rybread

      I think even “religious barm pots” would find this offensive.

      • http://kelseighn.blogspot.com Kelseigh

        Thing is, they probably won’t actually watch it themselves. When it’s out on video, they’ll buy it and plunk their kids in front of it. All that matters is that (1) it’s Christian oriented, and (2) see #1.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        The type of family I’m glad I wasn’t in personally, but it could’ve been worse. My mom certainly didn’t shove Jesus down my throat more than what I ended up learning about in church.

  • http://pitchbibles.blogspot.com Steve Schnier

    I bet those Pixar guys are trembling in their boots over this one.

    “Coming To A Theater Near You” <– Is that a threat?

  • http://pitchbibles.blogspot.com Steve Schnier

    Wait a second – aren’t these guys late? Easter was April 24th. If you’re going to make a ‘resurrection movie’ (without Zombies) at least have it open on the right day.

    If you’re making a resurrection movie WITH Zombies, you can open it whenever you want.

    And what’s with the crow doing the bad Gilbert Gottfried imitation? If you’re going to do a ‘celebrity voice’, at least hire the real celebrity.

  • Was My Face Red

    It’s a parable of how everyone in the middle east become a talking animal or caucasian.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Because there’s never an end to how far you can stretch your story out with some non-existent Caucasians.

  • Lindsay

    Man, where do I begin?! D:

    Bad idea. Just… no. How did this POS get greenlit in the first place? I thought it was bad enough when I first saw a preview for it a couple months ago… but the Jesus angle is new to me. O_o I agree with Variety – WTF?

    A couple little things that bugged me specifically were 1) the lamb’s character design; something seems very “off” about that face, though I don’t know what – the human eyes, or the short and too-”lippy” muzzle? And 2) the random and arbitrary accents each animal seems to have. A Scottish hen? An Indian-ish horse? Bronx ravens? I… just… why?!

    Yeah, I dunno. I guess I’m still not used to cheap CG animation. Mass-produced crap was different, somehow, in the 80s and 90s with hand-drawn stuff, but the complexity of CG modeling, rigging etc. invariably means that even mediocre CG just looks all-out BAD. :p

  • http://bwhitecartoons.blogspot.com Bill

    Suddenly “Hop” isn’t the worst 3-D cartoon with a Easter theme, huh?

  • Mike Johnson

    2:19 – “They call me MR. PIG!!!!!”

  • MissConception

    Well… seeing how I’m in Orlando… Do I owe it to everyone to see it? O_o

    • Jordan H

      Do not sacrifice yourself. See what I did there?

  • Vzk

    Uhh, Hebrews raising pigs?

  • David Nethery

    Oy vey. It’s things like this that make life hard on the writers at The Onion and the Daily Show. You can’t make this stuff up.

    Reminds me of a piece I just read by film critic Jeffery Overstreet on “Bad Christian Art Annoys Me” (he’s a Christian) .

    http://imagejournal.org/page/blog/bad-christian-art

    • JWebb

      Good article Dave!

  • Clint H

    Ummm…what was going on in this trailer?

  • DonaldC

    I didn’t see the Titanic animated films and there’s no way I’ll see this.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    Cows weeping at the crucifixion? It’s a laugh riot.

    “Oh – dat’s gotta hoit, moo.”

  • TStevens

    Interesting…

    It looks like Rocky Mountain Pictures is out of Salt Lake City and they are also responsible for the live action version of Atlas Shrugged.

    No agenda in these films…

    • http://kipwblog.blogspot.com Kip W

      That’s just perfect! I kept thinking of the Atlas Shrugged trailer while I was watching this.

      And it’s 3D! I’m tempted. Get thee behind me, Ed Wood!

    • http://joelbrinkerhoff.blogspot.com/ Joel Brinkerhoff

      It does seem like a strange choice for a studio that did “Atlas Shrugged”. The Ayn Rand book indoctrinates her philosophy of Objectivism which is anti-faith in any religion or deity. Could it be an attempt to subvert Christianity and make a few bucks off the believing community at the same time? These are strange days indeed.

  • http://www.stevelightart.com Steve Light

    “…..IN 3-D”–that actually made me laugh out loud! I’m dumbfounded by this.

  • http://thisisonlya.blogspot.com robcat2075

    It seems to be a lot of inside jokes intended to get knowing chuckles from VERY devoted Bible study group members. Think Ned Flanders.

    I’d be curious to know the budget on something like this.

    Encourage them to qualify it for the Oscars, that will get the nom limit closer to being upped from 3 to 5.

  • Em Dub

    Two words: Emo Donkey.

  • Silence Dogood

    Ohh, this is cringe-worthy. Nuff’ said.

  • Nipplenuts McGurk

    Oxymoron of the day: Christian Entertainment

  • http://woweh.com Kelly

    Of ALL the amazing films out there that never come to Canada, THIS is the one that actually plays near where I live?! >:(
    And no CB, I won’t see it. I love you guys, but I value my sanity more.

  • http://cjdoodles.blogspot.com/ CJ

    I find it horribly awkward when animals are used to teach the lessons of the bible. Even more awkward when they are sad over Jesus dying.

    Let’s not forget this is the same man who advocated for the death of horses by being hamstrung {Joshua 11:6}, sending demons into pigs and drowning them {Mark 5:13}. More horrible things to animals that I can count for I’m sure…

    Even when I was Christian as a child, the dual morality of these things never left my mind…

    Oh, the Joshua one was God, but God is Jesus so….

    • BC

      It’s not really dual morality. Humans and animals do not have the same kinds of souls, so you can’t really judge them the same way. (Not that animal abuse is right either, but I don’t think either of the things you mentioned were truly abuse, given the purposes for them.)

  • http://cjdoodles.blogspot.com/ CJ

    Speaking of which, these are the same animals who will eventually get slaughtered for food; or when they become worthless. :) Tell that to your kids!

  • Edward R. Cox

    I have to admit, I actually just laughed out loud when the crate appeared on the screen touting ‘Coming To A Theater Near You… IN 3-D’ LOL! The timing was accidentally perfect to elicit a laugh! Well of course it’s in 3-D! Just touting it as such so quickly was unintentional creative genius! LOL!

  • Steve Stanchfield

    It looks like it has some of the same people involved that did the ‘Tugger’ CG animated film up here in Michigan. It looks like they assembled an animated team in Cape Town, South Africa.

    From their site (The industry’ page):

    In the past, animated films were aimed at children aged nine and below. In recent years however animated films have been produced for teenagers, adults and the whole family. Three animated movies nominated for the first ever “Best Animated Feature” Academy Award are computer animated (Shrek, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Monsters Inc.). The highest grossing movies of the past several years have all been computer animated (Shrek, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.).

    Making changes to a scene is much easier when the scene is computer animated. In general, computer animated movies are easier to make and allow more immediate control over all aspects of the production. Merchandising in the form of T-shirts, caps, backpacks and toys with the main characters splashed all over them, have also been a major source of revenue for companies involved in cgi animation.

    …….and from their management page:

    Phil Cunningham
    Vice President & Chief Operations Officer
    In his mid-twenties, Phil owned and managed a highly successful international trading company, supplying a wide range of products into 8 countries. However, his passion since childhood was storytelling, and his conviction was that film is the worldÂ’s favorite media for stories. In 1999 he produced AfricaÂ’s first animated feature film, The Legend of the Sky Kingdom. In 2001 he produced the CG short, Always Take the Weather with You, which has won awards at several of the worldÂ’s leading animation festivals, including Zagreb and Brazil. This became the pilot for the acclaimed series – Jungle Beat, which has been distributed in 170 countries to date.

    Phil has also produced Once Upon a Stable, a 22-minute Christmas special and The Silent Fall, a live action feature film. Currently he is producing the full length feature CGI animation THE LION OF JUDAH scheduled for release 2008 worldwide. He is also a gifted writer, having written the screenplays for The Legend of the Sky Kingdom and The Silent Fall, and has also written two novels. Phil has built a team of outstanding artists, animators and writers in Cape Town, South Africa.

  • Some Girl

    I am Christian..and some of these comments sorta hurt. Ugh.But I will say, this (if I were not a Christian) wouldn’t convince me to believe otherwise. Doesn’t do justice to the actual..umm..crucifiction, IF that was what the movie was aiming for.
    So..this is kinda a no for me. :/

  • Eric Graf

    I just saw it.

    The trailer doesn’t do it justice. It is HORRENDOUS. It easily limbo’d under my lowest imaginable expectations. It is a serious contender for the worst animated movie I’ve ever seen.

    You think the animation is bad? Wait until you get a load of the script.

    Remember “The Dolphin: Story of a Dreamer”? THIS IS WORSE.

    The plot has a bunch of barnyard animals trying to save the lamb character from being used for the Passover slaughter in Jerusalem. They have several interactions with the human Passion story, which is happening simultaneously. They are indeed present to see the actual violent but totally bloodless crucifixion, which features one of the funniest readings of the line “It is finished” that I’ve ever heard. (Come to think of it, the ONLY funny reading of that line that I’ve ever heard.)

    The story is contrived, meandering and directionless until they plug-in to the Passion, and that’s handled with such maudlin goopiness that you wish they’d return to the meandering part.

    There are long scenes that make absolutely no sense at all. Characters who have a long series of lines that literally contain no complete thoughts. Whole concepts (the ravens stealing sheets, for instance) that weren’t even slightly explained in the movie, though perhaps a certain breed of fundie could piece it together for me.

    All the characters are one-note and thoroughly irritating. Most of them yell all their lines at the top of their lungs, and they yack yack yack nonstop. I found myself rooting for the lamb’s slow, painful demise before they even uncrated him, not cool for a character who’s supposed to parallel Jesus Christ.

    And the humor bits … jaw-dropping in their ineptitude. 5-second gags that went on for 90 seconds. Punch lines that were swallowed up by a bad read and/or a bad audio mix. Scenes so poorly staged that you were left to piece together afterwards what the filmmakers’ intention was.

    The fact that the animation was ugly, creepy, and full of blatant errors – including a lulu at a crucial moment involving Jesus – goes without saying if you’ve seen the trailer.

    And although I didn’t see it in 3D, it’s obvious that they’ve stuffed it full of every cheap 3D stunt in the book. I suspect an awful lot of the movie takes place right in your lap, with the bottom of the screen chopping everybody off at the knees.

    Some of the music was OK.

    I don’t care how low the budget was. I guarantee that far better movies have been made for less. I don’t care if the studio is a South African start-up making their first animated feature. Some people just shouldn’t be in the business.

    There MUST be artists in South Africa that can do better. There MUST be Christian production companies out there that know teh suck when they see it, and have enough sense to throw it, and its creators, out before they blow the entire budget. Maybe they’ll get together and make a movie some day.

    In the meantime, if you’re a fan of really, really, REALLY bad movies, by all means get your butt to the theater!

    (Disclaimer: Poster is a mainstream Christian who thought the first Veggie Tales movie was quite good, and the second one was awful, although not within miles of this bad.)

    • FigmentJedi

      This actually isn’t their first film. It’s a sequel to a DTV film called Once Upon a Manger about Jesus’ birth, which still has the same animals even though you’d think they’d have all died by the time Lion of Judah takes place.

  • Rob T.

    I just saw The Lion of Judah today; it played one week locally, and today was the last day. While I grudgingly admired certain aspects of the film–Georgina Cordova’s vocal performance as the lamb is easier to appreciate if you don’t actually watch the character, and I liked the idea of the boss raven being a prophetic dreamer–I concur with Eric Graf that this is a legitimate contender for the worst animated film ever, and some viewers might strike the modifying word “animated”.

    To start with, I found most of the characters annoying and didn’t much care for most of the others (with the exceptions noted above). The character designs are pretty much on the level of vaudeville performers in animal suits. The story is comprehensible enough but without watchable characters there’s almost no reason to care about it. (It also raises some odd questions, like how did the animals who witnessed the birth of Jesus live long enough to witness the crucifixion as well?)

    The filmmakers obviously tried for the goofy humor of DresmWorks films like Shark Tale and Madagascar, but without the self-consciousness that makes those films watchable, and without much in the way of wit or comic timing to compensate. They also found it impossible to integrate the lighter tone of the earlier portions of the film with the relative sobriety of the last third.

    Finally, I really didn’t like the music; the instrumental score was derivative, unsubtle, and got in the way of the movie’s emotional tone (such as it was), and the songs (there were a lot of them) did nothing to enhance the characters or move the plot. (In fact, they stopped the story cold every time–I mean, the characters didn’t do anything important to speak of during the songs.)

    I don’t have anything to say about the movie’s theology, but when one thinks about the people who worked on the film–people who believed that they were doing something good but didn’t realize that the rest of the world would see their film as a pile of garbage, or people who knew perfectly well their film was a pile of garbage and not caring as long as someone, somewhere, would pay to watch it–well, either way it’s not a very good example for Christianity.

    If I weren’t watching the film for research purposes (trying to watch every movie that might qualify for the animated feature Oscar), I probably would have left after the first 15 minutes. As it is, I can only recommend it for film students who want to know how badly wrong a film can go.

  • Silence Dogood

    And if you simply must watch a Christian animated show, this is so much better:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09rFk0A5DCE&feature=related