I love animation. Simply love it! Its probably one of my favorite genres. Funnily enough, I’ve taken a long break from watching it. Who knew after the podcast for Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart over at David’s That Moment In, I started craving a little more. If you missed that podcast, you can check it out HERE. When compiling the Netflix A-Z in this first round, the first letter on my list with B was The Book of Life. I have no idea what it was about but it looks pretty so I added it right on. After my streak of a few bad movies, I was ready for something good.
Before we move on, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the comments in the first post for ATM introducing this segment! I was great! How many of you considered this one after (or before) the few hints I dropped in the comments? Did this one just go over your heads or did you suspect it could be this one? I promise you I was very careful in making sure that each Netflix round will include lots of different genres! 😉
Let’s check it out!
The Book of Life (2014)
Director: Jorge R. Gutierrez
Voice cast: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate Del Castillo, Ron Perlman, Ice Cube, Christina Applegate, Hector Elizondo
Some kids go on a school field trip to the museum. Their tour guide takes them into a secret part and tells them a story from the Book of Life about the ruler of The Land of the Remembered, El Muerte and the ruler of The Land of the Forgotten, Xibalba who sets a wager that whoever wins will get to own the other’s land. This wager was on three kids, Maria, Manolo and Joaquin and who Maria will choose to marry when she gets older. After years of being apart, Maria returns home to find Manolo and Joaquin grown up and different however, the city is plagued by Chakal’s bandits. Who will she choose to marry and who will win the wager?
The Book of Life kind of came and went out of theatres without me giving it much thought. However, it do love folklores and sharp colors in animation so after remembering a few of the reviews, which are relatively positive if I remember correctly, I decided to give this a go. Its definitely not a disappointing animation. I love the colorful visuals and every single set in the story is absolutely lovely and wonderful. The characters also have a lot of detail and I just can’t say enough for how awesome it looks. Whether its the Land of the living, remember or forgotten, they all have their own features that make them very appealing. Also, the music is very suitable and equally charming as the surroundings from rehashing some popular hits to having some nice guitar solos and whatnot. It added a fun element to it.
The characters and voice cast is done pretty well also. Channing Tatum was an interesting choice for Joaquin because he doesn’t exactly have a Mexican accent or anything however he keeps the character dynamic and fun in an extremely macho way. While, Diego Luna who I’ve only ever seen in one movie before in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights so I can really picture him as Manolo. While, I was a little worried about Zoe Saldana being Maria Posada but she turned out to be very good at encapturing the female character who wants to break out of the traditional woman mold and being a strong lady who can take care of herself and choose her future. Xibalba and La Muerte also was done very well especially playing off her other’s parts to make it flow. However, my personal favorites are shots back to the kiddies going on the field trip that are placed skillfully throughout the telling of the story Manolo, Maria and Joaquin. Those were some of the most hilarious parts. And the role that Ice Cube did for Candle Maker was awesome!! 😉
However, while The Book of Life may have charming characters, great music and particularly enchantingly beautiful visuals, it lacked a little substance to the story. Honestly, I found myself bored a few times. It seemed like it was predictable and not particularly entertaining to watch the story unfold. The only reason that had me continuing to watch this was because they built good characters and it was just too nice to not look at. I felt like there should be a few more laughs but those only did come in random parts with the kids on the field trip (as mentioned before) or Joaquin’s reaction (in a very Gaston manner, if you know what I mean). And the whole Land of the Remembered part was the best part because of the new characters introduced that were pretty funny as well.
The Book of Life could’ve had a better story but the visuals alone is worth a viewing. It stays light and entertaining with a decent amount of laughs and more frequent as the movie progresses. There is a certain charm to it that might just pull you in.
Have you seen The Book of Life? What did you think of it?
C is coming up next. Any guesses? Hint: Think an older movie in the early 2000s 😉