From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes an animated comedy with a unique visual style. The Book of Life is the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart.
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Gutierrez's character style works well in 3D, but what really caught my eye were the visuals from the Land of the Remembered. I get Manolo's requirement to sing, but the whole mariachi-ed Mumford & Sons and Radiohead feels out of the place.
The first half was nearly unwatchable for me, and I could have done without the cheesy Mariachi takes on English language pop songs (Radiohead, really?!). But the 2nd half (the Underworld scenes) is so breathtakingly gorgeous that you can't hate this movie even if Ice Cube is in it. Bonus points for the Cheech and Chong jokes.
The art direction is exquisite, which kinda compensates some questionable choices (Ice Cube voicing a god? or Why it always has to end up with a glorious fight?). And kids, keep an eye on Maria! She's what I call a role model.
The art direction is so beautiful, but I wish there were fewer and better jokes. The original soundtrack is horrible: some films should not be musicals. Again, the art direction is a delight to the eyes. Book of Life is serving Dia de Los Muertos realness.
Just remember that death is not the end. One of the year's most wonderful surprises is this fantastically told tale from director Jorge Gutierrez and co-writer Douglas Langdale. Chock full of wonderful ideas and exceptionally voice cast. From the refashioning of pop songs to the 'wink wink' touches for the adults this is a highly elevated so-called kids picture for all the animation buffs out there. Don't miss it.
Greek Tragedy elements meeting Mexican Telenovelas with typical Masala. You could say it's three times the drama. Plus, comedy, fantasy, explosions and musical numbers. That Jorge R. Gutierrez' visuals -at the hand of Guillermo del Toro- are lush, they are.
It's a solid effort, but plenty of bumps along the way. The narrative framing is bland and misses the mark, but once we're in the story, it picks up. There are funny moments (the grandma, anyone?), but the message is heavy and didactic, and it suffers from trying very hard to make all story points end in an uplifting way.