The Book Of Life
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.