Uniquely Animated with a Powerful Meaning
Produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) and the feature length directorial debut from Jorge R. Gutierrez, The Book of Life tells the story of a young man who can't choose between fulfilling the expectations of his family or following his heart. He goes on an adventure through 3 fantastically different worlds and must face his greatest fears. The film stars the voices of Diego Luna (Elysium), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) & Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher). Can Del Toro create another unique film or will it flow (and be unoriginal) into the floods and floods of animated releases?
I didn't really know what to expect with The Book of Life - I wanted to see it as I saw the trailer with the Rio 2 DVD and was very intrigued. I thought the film would be different to the usual animated picture but also come with a powerful message - it does both things! The story is quite unoriginal and at times is basically an animated Twilight (two boys fighting over a girl), however, the poor representation of women is not as bad in this film as Maria (Saldana) is a very empowered character. I also thought the movie had a nice journey which was also very deep. The ending did seem a little rushed as most of the film is spent on earth but I was more interested in spending time on the colourful and pleasing to the eye- the land of the remembered. I was also interested in seeing the land of the forgotten. However, not much time was spent on these lands in comparison to time spent on Earth. The Book of Life is also really deep but covers it nicely to make it suitable for younger viewers- the main character voluntarily kills himself to go to heaven to see his love interest (thats not a Spoiler -quite early on in the film)
The animation of this film was really unique and different - I quite liked it. You can really tell that it is a del Toro film due to the weirdness of the animation. The land of the remembered includes a large spectrum of colours which makes it bright and great to look out. There was also a lot of positivity in this land which was great to see. However, other than the animation of the characters, in all the other lands, the animation is a little 2D and not very developed.
Lets talk about the message of the film - I got 2 main messages from this film: write your own life (you can do what you want) and that people who have passed away will always be with you along as you remember them. I think the latter is a great message to teach young children through an animated film as so many young people have to go through such terrible losses - this film may make them feel a little better about themselves. I also think this is a really positive way to look at losing a loved one - it brought a tear to my eye as I can connect with this type of thing. I also liked the fact that the film encourages viewers to write their own life - they can do anything they want to!. This encourages people to dream big and not let any barriers or people stop them. The Book of Life has a really powerful meaning.
I also liked the musical elements of this film. Some of the songs did drag a little but most of them were catchy and enjoyable - most of them are covers which does suggest that originality has been lost a little. The voice actors were also good - there were no stale or 'bored' voices, everyone sounded like they got into their roles and were enjoying themselves.
The Book of Life isn't the most original film you will see but it does have elements that are breaths of fresh air. The voice overs from Lune, Zaldana & Tatum are good and the actual look of the film is very unique - praise goes to del Toro for that! I preferred this film to Paranorman or Coraline which fit into a similar genre - The Book of Life has a really strong message and I think you should watch it (Even if thats the only reason you watch it) - but trust me, this is a solid movie!