The Book of Life (2014)

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7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting animation and music blend

Story is strongest in the middle and too often drags

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Book of Life

Studio:  Reel FX Creative Studios

Genre(s):  Animated/Family/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Romance/Musical

Release Date(s):  October 12, 2014 (Premiere)/October 17, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

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Let’s screw with humanity again!

A school tour is given one of the secret stories of the Book of Life.  Xibalba (rule of the Land of the Forgotten) and his wife La Muerte (ruler of the Land of the Remembered) have made a bet.  Maria Posada is admired by both Manolo Sánchez and Joaquin Mondragon, and Xibalba is backing Joaquin while La Muerte is backing Manola.  When Xibalba interferes in the game by giving Joaquin the advantage, Manola will have to face death itself to try to win the woman he loves.

Written and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez, The Book of Life is a family animated musical.  The movie was released to relatively positive reviews and a strong box office.

I have to admit that I wasn’t very interested in The Book of Life.  It looked like every other animated film out there.  Having now seen the movie, I’ll admit that the movie does have its moments, but unfortunately, it also can be quite dull at times.

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25 years ago when you were singing “F*@! the Police” with NWA did you ever see this as your future Ice Cube?

The story is set up in a framework of the story being told to a group of children in a secret wing of a museum.  The framework does pay off in the end, but the real meat of the story is the story itself.  The battle between the two gods has a nice Greek mythology feel and the basic romance is also nice…but the movie takes too long to get going and also drags out in an end fight.

The movie had a strong cast of vocal actors.  Diego Luna is the voice of the hero Manolo, and Channing Tatum provides the voice of his rival Joaquin.  The love interest of both character is voiced by Zoe Saldana.  Other voice actors include Ice Cube, Plácido Domingo, Gabriel Iglesias, Cheech Marin, Troy Evans, and the film’s producer Guillermo del Toro.

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All this big, fiery bull wants is an apology…

The animation and style of the film is what does help The Book of Life.  The movie makes the characters all look like puppets (which ties into the idea that they are all being controlled by the gods).  This is combined with a soundtrack that utilizes popular songs like Radiohead’s “Creep”.  I wish that this aspect had been pushed harder to give a Moulin Rouge-esque feel that really blended genres and styles.

The Book of Life feels like a different, non-Disney film.  The movie has a weird blend of animation and music but it just does not quite get over the hump it needs to clear to make it really distinctive.  It is interesting and unique, but lulls int he story hinder it from being truly original…The Book of Life is one of those borderline films that just needed a little more pushing to be great.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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