The Book Of Life

SFX - - Cinema -

After­life support

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

U | 95 min­utes Di­rec­tor: Jorge R Gu­tier­rez Cast: Zoe Sal­dana, Diego Luna, Chan­ning Ta­tum, Ron Perl­man, Kate del Castillo

It’s not ev­ery fam­ily

friendly an­i­mated film that em­braces the con­cept of death quite so firmly to its colour­ful bo­som. Sure, movies like Bambi and even Find­ing Nemo con­front it to some de­gree, but Jorge Gu­tier­rez’s vi­brant de­but takes the Mex­i­can Day Of The Dead cel­e­bra­tion as its launch­ing point to spin a tale of love, loss and lies.

With its bright, unique fig­ures, look­ing like a wooden pup­pet show has in­vaded a CG uni­verse, it’s un­like any­thing else you’ll see aimed at all- ages au­di­ences this year. Gu­tier­rez and shep­herd­ing pro­ducer Guillermo del Toro have main­tained a staunchly orig­i­nal look and voice for a story that flirts with ro­man­tic ri­val­ries: Diego Luna’s Manolo and Chan­ning Ta­tum’s Joaquin both hope to win the heart of child­hood friend Maria ( voiced by Zoe Sal­dana), while the plot also heads into the un­der­world of Mex­i­can myth, ruled by two bick­er­ing spir­its, the kindly La Meurte ( Kate del Castillo) and the tricky Xibalba ( Ron Perl­man, fun as al­ways) – each of whom backs one of the suit­ors.

Sadly, while the film’s de­sign work is out­stand­ing, the nar­ra­tive themes could have used some of the same imag­i­na­tion, fall­ing back on over­done, off- the- shelf ideas ( fam­ily ex­pec­ta­tions, be­liev­ing in your­self, the power of love) that rob the film of fresh­ness.

Still, if you’re after some­thing de­cid­edly un­usual for your next fam­ily film night, The Book Of Life is well worth check­ing out. James White

Gu­tier­rez used Ra­dio­head’s ap­proval to use “Creep” on the sound­track as lever­age to get other mu­si­cians to agree.

He seemed a lit­tle wooden.

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