The story of Leo, a lion king who learns a valuable lesson f
Taran Wanderer | Chicago, IL | 02/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most Jetlag Productions films are inspired on classic storybooks and fairy tales, but Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle, produced in 1994 and released on DVD by Goodtimes Entertainment in 2002, is an original story from the studio. Though often heralded and criticized as a rip-off of Disney's 1994 hit animated film, "The Lion King", this film actually tells a much different story, and all it really has in common with the Disney film is the fact that it stars a grown lion and a lion cub. Original stories from Jetlag Productions are rather rare, and I believe there's only been a few others; "The Magic Gift of the Snowman" (1995) and "Happy the Littlest Bunny" (1994) come to mind, though I have yet to see them both. "Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle" is a very entertaining story for kids, with good morals and fun characters. In my opinion, it is one of the best Jetlag Productions films to have ever been produced, right up there with "Little Red Riding Hood" (1995) and "Cinderella" (1994).
The story begins when the mother of a little lion cub is taken away by a group of greedy circus-workers. The cub, who hadn't been in the world long enough to be given a proper name, is left alone in the world with no one to guide him. Wandering around the jungle he meets Leo, a grown lion with a majestic crown upon his mane. Leo is the king in that part of the jungle and not a very respected one by any means. Leo is selfish and takes advantage of his position as a ruler; he takes food and the cool shadow under the trees from weaker animals and fails them when they need his help. Leo has the wrong idea of what being a king really means. When the young lion cub comes to him, he sends him away, telling him that it is not his responsability to take care of him. After much persuading from the cub, Leo agrees to allow him to come along with him. The cub does not yet have a name, and since he comes to admire Leo, he wishes to carry his name as well, but Leo refuses. Instead, he agrees to allow him to be a "Leo II", in other words, "Tooey". The two discover that Tooey's mother is still alive, for she had only been put to sleep by the circus' crew. The two cook up a plan to rescue her and the other animals locked up in cages, but in order to do that, they need the help of the other animals in the jungle. Sadly for Tooey, the other animals see no reason as to why they should help a king who's done nothing for them and refuse to join them unless Leo apologizes. Leo answers that as a king, it is not his job to offer any sort of apology or explanation. The other animals, enraged and hurt walk off. Leo cannot help but change his views of things when Tooey yells at him telling him that it takes great courage to admit you're wrong and to apologize. Tooey tells Leo that he hates him and that perhaps he was wrong when he thought of him as a hero. With a change of heart, Leo manages to earn back the long lost respect the jungle animals had for him and at last they join him to save Tooey's mother and many other animals from the greedy circus men.
"Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle" is a great story from Jetlag Productions with more virtues than flaws. The primary flaw here is the rather weak quality of the animation; the character's movements are jerky and without much emotion or grace. On the other hand, the character design is appealing and the background art is very well done as well. The film features a great original score, though most of the melodies can be heard in other films from the studio, and of course, its selection of three songs; this time three winners. The first song, "King of the Jungle" opens and closes the film and tells of the character of Leo as a strong, powerful king. The second song, "I'm Alone" expresses Tooey's loneliness at finding himself alone in the world. Finally, "I'm a Really Nice Guy" is Leo's song as he shows his subjects his good side and his proclamation as a new, kind king. Another great thing about this particular production is definitely the voice acting; for once, different, new voices can be heard (though the ending credits still lists the same thirty-one actors as all other films from Jetlag Productions). The acting is done realistically as opposed to the boring, clichéd voice acting in films such as "Snow White" (1996) and "A Christmas Carol" (1994). The characters are strong, well developed and above all likeable as heroes and villains. Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle should definitely not be confused with Disney's 1994 film, for like I said, both stories are very, very different. The film is an enjoyable treat for little kids and I definitely recommend it for them. Broad-minded adults will likely enjoy the movie as well; closed-minded adults should avoid it. Highly recommended!"