It only took a 30 Seconds to Mars song and a vibrant trailer for people to get excited about the new animated film The Book of Life. The festive interpretation of Mexican traditions on the Day of the Dead appeared to be a refreshing outlook for both children and adults alike. While the Reel FX production is unlike many current animated movies, both in style and design, there were several aspects that hinder its potential in the process.
The story takes place in the center of the Universe, as the film indicates, in a little town of Mexico called San Angel. On the Day of the Dead people gather and visit their loved ones’ tombstones, leaving them food and gifts to honor the memory of those who have passed away. All the while, the underworld’s entities, La Meurte – the beautiful and kind ruler of the Land of the Remembered- and Xibalba –the deceiving and cruel ruler of the Land of the Forgotten- decide to make a bet. Whoever loses, will have to rule the gloomy Land of the Forgotten. Betting on which of two friends will win the heart of the Mayor’s daughter, Maria, the entities set off an unexpected journey for the young trio of friends.
The movie is colorful and vibrant in its setting and especially in the journey of the very three different worlds, but I couldn’t help feeling there was something missing from the story. It is almost as if they focused on the aesthetics and fell back on a cliché tail of star crossed lovers. While I have nothing against star crossed lover –on the contrary, it could always be endearing- the film didn’t develop an interesting chemistry between the characters for me to follow a fellow’s epic journey in the name of love. It was as if the viewer just had to care, because he or she was supposed to.
Watch my video for the full review on The Book of Like, what works well in the movie, what fell short and what was neither here nor there.