This review, written by me, was first published in Newcastle University’s newspaper, The Courier, and has been slightly altered for the purpose of this blog post.
The Book of Life is an animation film, directed by Guillermo del Toro, that was released into cinemas last year (and is now available on DVD): the story centres around the small town of San Angel on the Day of the Dead.
La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), ruler of the Land of the Remembered, and Xibalba (Ron Perlmen), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, decide to have a wager. The prize: Xibalbe will get to rule the Land of the Remembered. The bet: which of the two boys from San Angel will marry their friend María (Zoe Saldana): Manolo (Diego Luna) or Joaquín (Channing Tatum)?
The film is absolutely beautifully animated; instead of the traditional style of animation, the characters are caricatures – some have enormous noses, tiny legs, massive bellies, and the like!. Each character has an exaggerated feature, and has been made to look like wooden puppets – all except La Muerte and Xibalba that is. The Land of the Remembered was especially stunning as the characters had been given such unique looks and the entire land was full of vibrant colours and figures.
The Book of Life has got a great musical element to it as well, the songs are a mix of covers (including Radiohead and Mumford & Sons) and original songs. In my opinion, the original songs are the best, they are more directly related to the film and as a result convey the emotion of the scene much better. I was greatly impressed by the voice actors, however, I’m not entirely sure about Channing Tatum as Joaquín; most of the characters from San Angel sound like they have Mexican influence, but Channing just sounds like a typical American. The only other criticism I have is that some of the jokes were very straightforward, though it’s forgiven because most of them were still chuckle-worthy and the film’s main target audience is, at the end of the day, children (but non-children, you should still watch this as it’s great!).
I definitely recommend this films it’s an absolute treat for the eyes and the story is especially heart-warming, offering an instant feel-good feeling that lasts long after you leave the cinema.