Genre: CG Animation
Director: Jorge Guttierez
Cast: Diego Luna, Channing Tatum, Zoë Saldana, Ice Cube, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Kate del Castillo, Cheech Marin, Placido Domingo, Hector Elizondo, Ana de la Reguera, Eugenio Derbez, Gabriel Iglesias, Ricardo “El Mandril” Sanchez, Danny Trejo
Runtime: 1 hr 36 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.bookoflifemovie.com
Opening Day: 30 October 2014
Synopsis: In this animated comedy adventure, a rich mythology including never-before-seen magical and wondrous worlds is brought to life in spectacular 3D CGI Animation. In THE BOOK OF LIFE, audiences will join its hero Manolo, a cast of remarkable characters – and a few meddling gods – on an epic journey through astonishing lands as he tries to find his way back home to be reunited with his loved ones.
Jorge Gutierrez does a fine job for his maiden film directing effort. A slight pity though that this film has producer, Guillermo del Toro’s, creative touches all over it rather than showcase Gutierrez’s personal style.
With a somewhat predictable plot about a love triangle that transcends the boundaries of death (think Romeo and Juliet without the tragedy), it would have been easy for Gutierrez to fall into the trap of overusing archetypes but thankfully he treads the line carefully.
Gutierrez’s fine treatment is complemented by an apt casting of voice actors - you can imagine the fun Channing Tatum must have had voicing the narcissistic but good-hearted Joaquin whose signature battle-cry is actually “JOAQUIN!”
This fine treatment is also evident in the subtle use of 3D technology such that it is never jarring and helps actually make the actions more real and engaging.
Although death is a heavy topic, it’s given a family friendly treatment where the dead quite pop up in the living world on an annual basis and as long as you remember those who passed on, they ‘live’ forever in the Land of the Remembered. The fact that the living and the dead looks similar except the latter is of a slightly different shade of colour and some patterns on their faces make them more cutesy than creepy. It also helps that the Land of the Remembered is actually more colourful than the land of the living.
Adults would be amused by how the filmmakers also poke fun at their own insecurities they may have about the treatment of death and their own culture at this portrayal of death. This is done through lines delivered by precocious school kids who, at one point, ask exasperatedly,“ What is it with Mexicans and death? We are just KIDS!”
(The Book of Life is a delightful animation that the whole family can enjoy. Adults would be able to have fun catching the snide references to clichés and the Latin treatment of Radiohead while kids will marvel at the amazing use of colours as well as superbly cute animals)
Review by Katrina Tee