Lion of Judah

Director: Deryck Broom

voice Cast: Michael Madsen, Ernest Borgnine, Scott Eastwood, Georgina Cordova, Omar Benson Miller, Leon Clingman, Bruce Marchiano, Sandi Patty, Anupam Kher

Running time: 87 minutes

Classification: PG

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

This film starts at the Labia on Orange on April 6.

Kgomotso Moncho

‘Lion of Judah’ is the second animated feature film to come out of SA and it shows the gradual growth of this young industry.

It was preceded by ‘Jock of the Bushveld’, whose hype was about telling the classic SA story of the dog with the brave heart.

‘Lion of Judah’ presents a lamb with the heart of a lion and concentrates on the Easter theme by telling the story of the Passover. It’s marketed as a faith-based product for the whole family, but with much emphasis on the kids.

The narrative follows a sacrificial and feisty lamb called Judah and his barnyard friends who embark on a mission to set people free, only to find the heroic lamb is the one in need of saving, and they believe the only one who can save him is the very King who was born in their stable many years before.

The animation is good, promising compared to the standards of its US counterparts who have been at it for years with companies such as Disney and Pixar. It is against these giants of animation that you judge the quality of local work and it’s that quality the animators strove for, with mentors from the US having helped in the process of ‘Lion of Judah’ in Cape Town.

As this is a budding industry, I wonder if it’s too early to expect something of a South Africanness in such projects. And I don’t mean casting Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu as a voice, as was the case in ‘Jock of the Bushveld’. But something beyond that.

The characterisation is often reminiscent of something you have seen in Hollywood. Drake the chicken may remind you of the chicken in ‘Jock of the Bushveld’, but he is also very much like Eddie Murphy’s Donkey in ‘Shrek’. Monty the horse could have been Mr Ping, Po’s goose father in ‘Kung Fu Panda’, if he wasn’t such a caricature and didn’t faint so often. But the kids at the preview seemed to enjoy that, and perhaps the writing is trying to break some of the stereotypes.

The direction is a little iffy because there are moments when the voices aren’t cohesive or projecting and at times don’t get some sensibilities right.

But ‘Lion of Judah’ is a likable film and the effort is apparent.

If you liked… ‘The Nativity Story’… you will enjoy this.