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The Book of Life Review

The Book of LifeBook life cover

Released: October 17, 2014

Rated: PG

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.

Book life 2

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.

Book life 3

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.

Book life 1

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


 Faith Advisory:

-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

Faith Verdict:

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!

The Fault In Our Stars Review

fault in our stars coverThe Fault in Our Stars is the highly anticipated movie adaption of John Green’s successful book of the same name. Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Gus) bring excellent chemistry to the film, delivering fantastic performances as the two leads who quickly fall in love. The two share a common, unfortunate fate, but combat it with a seemingly unconditional love for one another. This bond is what carries the emotional weight of the film. Alongside them, we have a serviceable cast, including the always great Willem Dafoe, who plays a washed up, famous writer that Hazel adores (well, at first…). The story is simple and sweet, so don’t expect any thing extraordinary. Think of a Nicholas Sparks movie…but 5 times better. Sure, there are a few cliches here and there, but the film builds on each of them and explores deeper into the characters’ minds. There’s also a cool aspect to the text messaging between Hazel and Gus where you see their texts in an animated cloud in the same design as the movie poster.


Everything manages to be cute, cuddly and sweet, even through the pains of cancer. The strength and determination of Hazel and Gus is what makes The Fault in Our Stars a success. It’s Hazel’s relentless honesty and willpower and Gus’s dedication and friendship to her that help everything come together. It has it’s “faults”, but overall, this is a whimsical, honest and sweet film that never refuses to be transparent and heartfelt. See my “Faith Advisory” below to read more about the subject matter of this film.

3.5 out of 5

Faith Advisory:

Some of the subject matter in The Fault in Our Stars is not appropriate for teenagers or children. There is a scene where premarital sex is implied. We hear several curses. God’s name is taken in vain a couple times. Occasionally, characters poke fun at Christianity. As a Christian, it will be easy to get offended during the viewing of this movie. Almost every moral choice made in the film is the opposite of what God’s word emanates. Seeing this film with your teen isn’t the best idea and if you’re a believer, it may rub you the wrong way. Hazel and Gus tend to rely on their love to carry them through. No one in the film sees faith in God as an option, even though death is right around the corner.

Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

Released March 23, 2012

Rated PG-13

Directed By Gary Ross

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks

142 Minutes

     The Hunger Games is based off the novel of the same name. It’s source material is superb, and it delivers the goods, without disappointment. The film is a young girl who volunteers in place of her younger sister to participate in “The Hunger Games”, knowing there is a high chance she could die. There are 24 participants, all who are randomly selected, given their age group, who are then are set out into a large wooded area with weapons and some survival items. Who ever survives, wins, and all others die off, whether from starvation, disease or killed by another participant. The idea of this sparks controversy, and I for one, do not like it what so ever, but it’s not real after all. Some may be turned off though, for certain.

The Hunger Games is simply a triumph. For starters, the cast is great and the acting even greater. Woody Harrelson is in top form, and Jennifer Lawrence plays the leading role with ambition and wit. Right from the get-go, the movie is on fire, there is so much tension and angst through out, even with it’s long run time. You won’t want the movie to stop, there is so much going on and you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next. The story plays out very well and the script is well done. The biggest strength of The Hunger Games is it’s ability to envelop so many aspects of film making into one body. It boasts drama, love, action and even a little comedy. It doesn’t leave anything out. It’s a jack of all trades kind of flick, making it accessible to many different types of viewers. I am happy to say that The Hunger Games lives up to all the hype, delivering a rock solid piece of work with great chemistry between it’s actors, an engrossing plot, well-developed characters, a unique premise and emotional depth, making it a winner in nearly every category.


4.5 out of 5

Second Opinion by Austin Winkler

     Based on the novel trilogy of the same name, The Hunger Games made it’s way into a long-awaited film interpretation. It hit theatres March 23, 2012. When I first heard of the book series, I noticed it’s gained quite a bit of popularity, and now fans of the series are raving about how much they want to see it. The question we have to ask ourselves now is “Will the odds be forever in favor of this one?”

For those of you who have never read the books (one of them being me), the story revolves around the nation of Panem, which consists of a wealthy central capital and twelve poorer districts. A few years before this story, the twelve nations revolted against the capital. Now, the districts are punished for their revolt by giving one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 to 18 to be raffled off to participate in “The Hunger Games,” which is a gladitorial fight to the death. Katniss Everdeen (played by Jenifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (played by Josh Hutcherson) from district 12 have been chosen as the “tributes,” or participants. They have to work together to survive, or kill their opponents off.

I walked into this movie thinking that it was gonna be another “Twilight,” which is over-praised to say the absolute least. But now that I’ve seen the movie, I can safely say that I’ve been proven wrong! This movie tells a great story of the human’s will and hope of survival. It’s a vivid interpretation of what you are willing to do to survive. The acting and cinematography were all great and worthy of gaining at least one accolade. The movie also had some pretty good special effects and the costumes and make-up somewhat reminded me of something from Tim Burton’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. The only bad thing about this movie was that it was drug out in places that didn’t need to be drug out. For example, the training and other activities shown before the actual game scene were longer than they needed to be.

Bottom line, this was one of the better ones to come out this year and is definitely worthy of praise. I’m not sure what fans of the book will think about it, so if you have read the books, comment below and tell me what you think of the film adaptation. But for now, I’ll definately make sure I buy it when it hits store shelves and if you don’t get the chance to see it in theatres, make sure you do as well.

Second Opinion by Austin Winkler