THE BOOK OF LIFE DVD (2014)
SYNOPSIS: From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes a breathtaking animated comedy with a dazzling visual style unlike anything you've seen before. Torn between the expectations of his family and the desires of his heart, a young man named Manolo sets off on an epic quest that spans three spectacular worlds in order to reunite with his one true love and defend his village.
All thanks to producer Guillermo Del Toro and director Jorge R. Gutierrez (both Mexicans by the way), we get to enjoy a Mexican folklore infused animation, The Book of Life.
The Book of Life is both ghoulishly fun and imaginative and very often it’s like a Mexican version of Tim Burton’s groundbreaking The Nightmare Before Christmas. The animation by Reel FX Animation Studios (which is hell lot better than it’s previous effort, Free Birds) is gorgeous, colorful and filled with plentiful crazy, sometimes scary images.
The story on the other hand, which is jam-packed with mythology and characters, is ambitiously squeezed into a compact 95 minutes runtime. Two divines, La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), ruler of the Land of the Remembered and Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten enters a bet involving three young kids, Maria, Manolo and Joaquin.
Maria (Zoe Saldana) of course grows up to be a pretty lady and her two suitors; Manolo (Diego Luna) struggles to be a guitarist and also as a matador at the urging of his father while Joaquin (Channing Tatum) is already an established hero in their town of San Angel. Who will win the hand of Maria? And who will win the bet in the end?
It’s very much a romance tale at its core as we follow Manolo as he journey from the Land of the Remembered to the Land of the Forgotten to get back to his only love, Maria. Despite the occasional music segments, younger kids might be lost from the frenetic pacing especially with all the dizzy exchanges between the dead and undead. Hopefully all the dazzlingly visuals and gags will make up for it.
The voice work is overall top notch with Ice Cube standing out as the jovial Candle Maker. The Book of Life features themes of friendship, love and family unfortunately it might be all buried under the visually stunning animation.
The Adventures of Chuy is a new short featuring Chuy the pig. Music Moments round up the movie’s music sequences so you can play them all. The DVD also includes the Audio Commentary by Director Jorge R. Gutierrez, a stills Gallery, "No Matter Where You Are" Music Video by Us the Duo and a Theatrical Trailer.
With popping colors and details, The Book of Life looks wonderful on DVD. The clarity of the songs and dialogue never disappoint while ambient and surround effects are generally well-placed.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee