The Book of Life
Released: October 17, 2014
Runtime: 95 Minutes
The Book of Life is an animated adventure written and directed by Jorge Gutierrez and stars Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Pearlman, Kate Del Castillo, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube and Danny Trejo. The story revolves around a trifecta of friends: Manolo (Luna), Maria (Saldana) and Joaquin (Tatum). Manolo and Joaquin have been vying for Maria’s love all their lives. Things take a major turn due to a bet between two spiritual beings in Xibalba (Pearlman) and La Meurte (Castillo), who try to guess which man will capture Maria’s heart. We venture through a few cool worlds while getting a big slice of Mexico on the way, which comes in the form of characters, music, traditions and locales. By the way, Ice Cube as Candle Maker is a pretty awesome character. The performances are great though, all around.
The Book of Life boasts beautiful visuals full of vibrant color and major attention to detail. It’s some of the better animation and costume design I’ve seen. The liveliness and vibrance of the characters emphasizes it too. They’re some of the coolest and unique creations you’ll see in animation, which is refreshing. Not only are the characters pretty, but the worlds and locations are also full of life, from gorgeous waterfalls to the ominous underworld. Even though all of it is pretty and gorgeous, the ideas have all been put on screen before. The Book of Life simply executes them very well. The music is also another strength of this movie as it offers new takes on classic tunes.
This tale of family, friends and love is one that will keep you entertained. It’s a well-told story and the dialogue can be sharp at times. Mostly though, it’s run of the mill. It does however, manage to strike a fine balance between children and adult entertainment. What the movie lacks at times seems to be that magic. That special something. Sure, the characters are all fun and entertaining but you never really connect with them as much as you’d think. It makes watching it a little frustrating. Despite this, the film still gives off a family friendly aura and you can’t deny that.
Overall, I hoped for more in The Book of Life. Maybe the other fantastic animated films to come out in 2014 spoiled me. The movie still boasts gorgeous animation, unique characters, solid music, and family-friendly entertainment. However, it’s weighed down by a lack of character development and a somewhat generic plot. Regardless of its shortcomings, The Book of Life will still be a suitable viewing experience for children and adults alike.
3.5 out of 5
-Talk of spirituality, death and the afterlife
-Some characters could be scary to children
-Biblical themes are here, but may confuse people and be inaccurate
-Some characters kiss
4 out of 5
Check out the trailer for The Book of Life below and be sure to let me know what you thought of the movie in the comments and on Facebook!