The Book of Life Movie Review

Watched The Book of Life this afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Comment below if you’ve seen it and let me know your thoughts.  Here is my review.

The Book of Life (2014) has a wonderful list of voices throughout.

Directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez

Producer- Guillermo Del Toro

Writes-Jorge R. Gutierrez  and Douglas Langdale

Diego Luna- Manolo

Zoe Saldana- Maria

Channing Tatum- Joaquin

Ron Pearlman- Xibalba

Kate Del Castillo- La Muerte

With a very lovely supporting cast of supporting voices that provided some authenticity over any predecessors.

The Book of Life is a familiar tale where two men seek the heart of a fair women. Beyond that, there are two gods Xibalba (Pearlman) and La Muerte (Del Castillo) who make a bet with each other for which man the girl will eventually choose. The destination is familiar, but the journey is unique.

I love the three leading characters in this film. Some actors have trouble projecting their voices into an animated character, but Channing Tatum as Joaquin did it perfectly.  He was fun, electrics, and courageous. I loved every scene that he was in. Tatum is able to make fun of himself through this character and I got the feeling he just loved his role in this.  (If someone knows him, go ahead and ask for me.)

Zoe Saldana  has already had a big year with Guardians of the Galaxy (so much fun!), but she plays the lovely Maria. I love when a female character is allowed to shine through her intelligence, bravery, and her own abilities. This movie on the surface may make you think of a traditional love story where the woman is this helpless damsel in distress seeking a strong man to save her, but Maria is not that kind of girl; if needed, she will save herself in most cases.  I appreciate that more and more movies are breaking away from the archaic ideas of what women are. Women can still be sexy and beautiful, but they can strong, intelligent, and driven just like anyone else. I applaud this movie for letting a girl like Maria shine.

Diego Luna (Elysium) as Manolo was a big question mark going into this movie. I had no idea who he was. However, i loved the character and thought his voice was very fitting. He was forced into his family’s occupation which wasn’t his true calling. Under the iron restraints of his family’s legacy, as good as he was, he could never be the man he wanted to be.

The film is very beautiful in many ways, but it never separated itself quite like I hoped. It was very well done and on par for the higher quality animation that you see today. However, I expected it to transcend what I normally see with it’s unique animation style.  (Let’s call it Minecraft with stellar detail)

There were some missteps in the movie. The humor often worked for me, but sometimes I found it childish and silly. (How dare they put childish humor in a movie for children.)  If you are an adult, then you can still go in and enjoy the movie; you will probably laugh plenty, but there will be jokes that are basically gimmes for children. I don’t mind a more youthful tone for an animated movie as far as humor, but I don’t think it should ever be just handed to them.

The music was very nice and I particularly like what they did with “Creep” by Radiohead.  However, I like a movie where the music is more authentic or original. In this movie there were several times where they used well known pop music. I felt that something either less known or completely original to the movie would have been more effective. It took me out of the movie a little bit.

The villain wasn’t memorable, he was neat looking, but also complicated. I never got the sense of someone who is truly evil such as a Hades in Hercules (1997). He was more filled with conniving  indifference with a slight edge towards selfishness. I wanted a villain that would stick out as one bad figure, but I didn’t get it.

What did you think of The Book of Life


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