My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that I like it and it is entertaining. The animation is really great, and right out of those spanish art books, there are some strong characters in here, and the music is good enough. While the story is predictable, and some of the twists in the film is a bit questionable, it is really nothing worth stressing over. This is the first film I liked this year since…….. How To Train Your Dragon 2, and that was the only film I really liked this year.
Apparently the film started development in 2007, but at DreamWorks Animation, but it never went further than the early development stages ebecauseof creative differences. Probably a good thing that DreamWorks never finished this project. DreamWorks right-hand-man Guillermo del Toro went and took the project over to Reel FX, where it became the film I am reviewing. Apparently, the director Jorge Gutierrez stated “I saw every single one that comes out and my biggest heartbreak is that I see all this glorious art, and then the movie doesn’t look like that! The mandate of this movie was: Our ‘Art of’ book is going to look exactly like the movie. And every artist poured their heart and soul into that idea.”
The film starts at a museum, with a museum guide named Mary Beth (Christina Applegate) in the modern day taking a bunch of kids through the museum, and she takes them through a secret day to explain to them stories of the Day of the Dead, since it is November the 2nd (if I only published this review than, that would be so cool). She explains the Land of the Remembered, where the deceased have living relatives that remember that deceased individual, and in that land, they celebrate over there, where the Land of the Forgotten is where a deceased person goes when there is a living person that remembers them. This is where we get into our main story.
We go back into Mexico from centuries ago, where we see children named Manolo (Emil-Bastien Bouffard and Diego Luna), Maria (Genesis Ochoa and Zoe Saldana), and Joaquin (Elias Garza and Channing Tatum), who are all adventurous, with the town celebrating the Day of the Dead. Ex lovers, and the ruler of the Land of the Remembered, La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and the ruler of the Land of the Forgotten Xibalba (Ron Perlman), who is sick of being in the Land of the Forgotten, which caused him to be a heartless jerk. Him and his lover make a bet that they will switch based off of which boy wins the girl over and marry her.
Manolo goes to his father Carlos (Hector Elizondo) and great-grandmother Grandma Sanchez (Grey DeLisle) to explain that he misses his deceased mother Carmen (Ana de la Reguera), with them explaining to him that the Day of the Dead is the only day where they can feel the deceased family and friends be there with them. I really like how they took the time to explain the cultural concept o this holiday. They need to do this more with ethnic films.
Maria sees a pig that she grows fond of, and as it is about to be slaughtered to turn to pork, she gets her boys to help her free the pigs, which eventually gets her into trouble with her father General Posada (Carlos Alazraqui), who was almost injured, with Joaquin saving his life, which completely ignoring Manolo’s part of helping him. He yells at Maria, telling her that she is going to boarding school to learn how to behave…..Come on, she is one of the only Damsel in Distresses in this position that has a sense of personality. He automatically deems Joaquin a hero, and we get the cliche of Manolo having to deal with his father wanting him to continue the tradition of being a bullfighter instead of a musician. Before Maria leaves, she manages to fix Manolo’s guitar, and writes a message on it.
The girls are hating on Maria because she is a natural beauty, unlike them all, and she sits beside Joaquin. Manolo sees Maria in the crowd and flirts with her as he fights the bull, only to not kill it (after seeing her reaction to it through his sword, being an animal lover), which pisses off the entire town but her. His father yells at him, and yells at him more when Manolo apologizes, and soon ignores Manolo. Oh gosh is this predictable and tiring. The two gods are still talking about who is having the better advantage. Now that I am thinking about it, it is really dumb that they are wasting so much time on this, and making a bet over something like this. Maria overhears Manolo play a rockish song about how h loves her which causes her to blush before walking off.
Back at her house, her father, his friends, and Joaquin are having dinner, where he is trying to hook him up with his daughter, and as Maria explains her travels, Joaquin gets bored and uninterested, and tells her that women are only on earth to make men happy (with everyone int he room agreeing), causing her to storm off, unimpressed.
Manolo goes to her balcony, and serenades her with a song, telling her to meet him somewhere, but she is not fully impressed. Joaquin sees him serenading her, which causes him to rally up her father and the entire town to watch as he proposes to her. She does not get to answer, as Manolo barges into her house, and they literally begin fighting over her, with her father pushing her to marry Joaquin, since they need him to protect the town from the bandit Chakal, who just so happens to show up to town. Joaquin goes in to save the town and fights the bandit.
The two meet up by the bridge at Dawn, where the ruler of the Forgotten Lands sends a snake over to bite them (this reminds me of the Bible, where the serpent went to corrupt Adam and Eve). He proposes to her, and she tells him that she loves him,but she sees a snake and pushes him away, causing the snake to bite and poison her. Everyone shows up and is mad at Manolo, saying that he should have protected her, and that she is dead because of him. They all want him to leave and when the ruler of the Forgotten show sup, he manages to convince Manolo to get bitten by the snake, so he can see Maria again.
He reunites with the family members that he remembers, and when he goes to see the ruler of the Remembered, and asks to see Maria, Xibalba shows up, and tells them that he made a deal with his lover, and reveals to him the deal that the two gods made, and the deal consisted of him being the ruler if Joaquin proposed. He is all confused because Maria is not dead, and woke up to only accept Joaquin’s proposal after she finds out Manolo is dead. Her father is pushing her to accept it when they are all mourning, and even Joaquin says that it is not the time.
They go through the Cave of Souls, where they meet the Candle Maker (Ice Cube), who oversees every single living person. So Manolo asks him to return, which he says that he cant, but…………..there is some loophole that I do not care to explain at the moment causes him to come back. They end up at the Land of the Forgotten, where La Muerte is told of what happens, and loses her shit, and yelling at her man about this. It is revealed that Xibalba gave Joaquin a medal that gives him everlasting life, and he tells Manolo that he has to defeat every single bull his ancestors have defeated to return to life (or be forgotten forever). His father and great grandmother joins them int eh death (cholesterol killed the great grandmother).
Manolo defeats all of the bulls and joins the town, they town rallies together (thanks to Maria) and is defeated by Manolo`s singing and guitar playing (which I do think is a crock of bullshit, that literally does not make sense to me), but whatever, it causes him to be resurrected. This climax is really weird and anticlimactic. Apparently things are not done yet, and the town fights them but things are done when Joaquin gives the metal back. So the film ends with the rulers reuniting their fucked up romance, and Maria marries Manolo in the same day
damn, girl is busy. They all sing a song called No Matter Where You Are, which is a nice way to end the film, and to show that they will always remember their lost ones.
The characters are very enjoyable. While they are not the most original, there is some depth to each character, and they do have a lot of personality. You will like these characters.
The animation is simply brilliant. They took it right out of those mexican art books, where they got those wooden designs, and they incorporated them really nicely. The colors are extremely vibrant, and this film really stood out in CGI. I was definitely impressed with it.
When it comes to the music, I really like the score of it. There is a lot of latin roots in it, and you can tel that they put effort in it, wanting to establish more of the culture. When it comes to the song, they are fine, but they are not ones that I will remember a month from now. I do not like the pop covers that some of the cast sung, and I do feel like it distracted from the film, and distracted form the setting a lot. It was not pleasing.
Reception at Release
When the film was released October 17th, 2014, it made $71.2 million (as of November 8th, 2014). I do predict that it will make over $100,000, but I sadly do not see it making much higher than that. Why? WDAS film Big Hero 6 is coming out in a few days, and WILL steal the spotlight, and later this month, the DreamWorks Madagascar franchise will release their Penguins film. This film simply wont be able to compete.
The movie got really positive reviews, with most reviews praising the animation, and liking the characters, though some thought that the story was kind of lacking in creativity.
= 31/40 = 78%
8 thoughts on “The Book of Life review”
Phew 78 seems too low. Tough critic! I actually didnt think the plot was predictable as it went places I wasnt expecting. It’s a little convoluted and the narration and beginning in the museum is unnecessary. Also wasnt that thrilled with the songs although good score. I also didn’t get some of the voice casting. It could have been more Latin.
But it was so inventive and pretty to look at I liked it. I thought the story involving the love triangle was played pretty subtlety with all 3 being good people. Usually one of the 3 is a jerk so that was refreshing. I liked the messaging in the movie about remembering our ancestors was a nice one. If we remember people than they are still with us and a part of our lives. Nice message. I think I gave it a B. I enjoyed it despite some flaws
Yeah, many do consider me a hard critic. I thought they did with the voice work, and that all of the voice actors were Latin but Channing Tatum (who actually seemed like he was trying to sound Latin). I think the only thing I did not expect to happen was him dying, but now in hindsight, I should have expected that. They should have ended the film with a museum scene just like they begun with one.
Well, they did kind of paint Joaquin as a jerk, and kind of sexist. I definitely did like the message, and i is one that all of us needs to carry with us. Well, technically a 78 is a B+, so we roughly gave it around the same mark.
78 is a C+? I thought that Jaoquin was a nice guy. He was trying to impress Maria but never so much he was a jerk to me. I could see why Maria might pick him.
I guess you are more of a prophet than me because it certainly wasn’t predictable and they did end with the museum where you find out the tour guides are really the Lords of the worlds. Yeah I didnt think even the Latin voice actors sounded very latin. I would have cast Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruise, Antonio Banderas or Salma Hayek. Someone with a strong accent.
But I really enjoyed the film despite it’s flaws.
Crap, I meant B+. Clicked the wrong letter.
Those are the typical Latin people that Hollywood goes to hire whenever there is a Latin role, so I am shocked that they did not get any of those actors/actresses.
I did enjoy it too.
You mean C+! 78 is a C+. Ha. Glad you enjoyed it. It’s not perfect but I did too
Where I live, a 78 is a B+. It is very weird though that it differs depending on where you live.
Oh interesting. it’s not perfect but I really liked it