The Book of Life is a rare exception to the ongoing trend of remakes, reboots, sequels and superhero movies, in the sense that it brings a slice of Mexican culture to American audiences. Directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez, the film is an amalgamation of genres, blending horror, adventure and romance. The focal point of the movie is not any of the characters but the Day of the Dead holiday which is celebrated with great zeal and fervor in the Mexican culture.
The Book of Life focuses on the adventure three close friends go on after they uncover a secret passageway when on a field trip to a museum. The passageway leads them to the Book of Life, the fabled book the movie is named after. It is there that the three main characters, Joaquin (Channing Tatum), Maria (Zoe Saldana), and Manolo (Diego Luna) are revealed.
Things take a turn for the worse when the love triangle between these three characters is exploited by the lords of the underworld for their own personal amusement. Each ruler chooses their champion who may marry the feisty Maria. But you should not expect Xibalba (Ron Perlman) to play fair as the story progresses.
As interesting as it seems, the film does lack in terms of detail and animation. However, it makes up for it with some brilliant storytelling and artistry which breathes life into these simply constructed CGI characters. Being a major film release, it is definitely worth seeing in 3D as it is completely different from the other CGI feature films out there. You should also keep in mind the songs add to the movie’s humor as the actors do their own singing with mariachi versions of modern tunes from famous and contemporary artists, including Elvis Presley and Radiohead.
Even though it is entertaining and clever at times, it conveys a strong message even young kids will grasp quite easily. It is another feather in the cap for Guillermo del Toro, who is the producer for this one.
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox & Reel FX