HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
Critters Attack!
Prison on Fire
Dragged Across Concrete
Do the Right Thing
Hellboy
Pond Life
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The
Third Wife, The
Shazam!
Follow Me
Leto
Fugitive Girls
Missing Link
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
Pet Sematary
Oh... Rosalinda!!
Dumbo
Kaleidoscope
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, The
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Klute
Meow
Killer Crocodile
Nutcracker Prince, The
Secret World of Og, The
Benjamin
Fifth Cord, The
Man Could Get Killed, A
Cyborg 009: Kaiju War
Heavy Trip
Nightmare Weekend
Blue Ice
Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, The
Incident, The
Hell's Angels
Heaven and Earth
Flatliners
   
 
Newest Articles
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
Things Have Changed: Films You'd Be Insane to Make Now
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
   
 
  Book of Life, The Hispanic PanicBuy this film here.
Year: 2014
Director: Jorge R. Gutiérrez
Stars: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Kate del Castillo, Hector Elizondo, Danny Trejo, Carlos Alazraqui, Ana de la Reguera, Plácido Domingo, Miguel Sandoval, Cheech Marin, Jorge R. Gutiérrez
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Animated, Romance, Fantasy
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's nearing closing time at the museum and the tour guide is looking forward to a rest until a new bus pulls up containing five kids who look like trouble to him. He is about to resign himself to dragging them around the establishment when they really are not interested when someone appears to save him, his colleague Mary Beth (Christina Applegate) who almost immediately fascinates them by showing off a door in the outside wall that is hidden to the naked eye thanks to an optical illusion. She then escorts them inside where they end up in a Mexican room which houses many treasures from Central America, but it is a particular tome she wishes them to hear about...

That'll be the book of life, then, in a cartoon produced by Mexico's most famous filmmaker, possibly of all time, Guillermo del Toro, which wholeheartedly embraced the culture of its homeland, something shared by the director Jorge R. Gutiérrez and many of the talents involved. In spite of being an American film from an American studio, which might explain why we were saddled with the frequent cutaways to the white kids learning about the legends Mary Beth is relating, a device which had the unfortunate effect of pandering to the non-Mexican audience when if they had just let the story stand on its own two feet they might have had an experience more stimulating.

That actual story was of Manolo (Diego Luna), who when he was a little boy was in love with Maria (Zoe Saldana), but his best friend Joaquin (Channing Tatum) felt the same way. She had to choose eventually, and this gives two Mexican spiritual entities an idea: the Lord of the Forgotten Dead (Ron Perlman) bets the Lady of the Remembered Dead (Kate del Castillo) that Joaquin will go off with Maria, and she bets on Manolo, with the promise that if she loses, they will swap realms since the Lord is so sick of his depressing existence. But he is a mischievous sort, and will contrive to have things go his way by fair means or foul, which sounds as if we're in for a high stakes adventure with the romance at the heart of it.

Well, it sounds like that but what you got was a hyperkinetic race through the film's idea of updating various traditions which not only did not pause for breath, but in the process managed to gloss over any sense of gravitas that might have conjured up a story of depth and colour. Oh, it was colourful enough visually, if anything the imagery was too busy to take in as it hurtled by, like taking a sightseeing trip at supersonic speed, but with everything presented in that flippant, don't tax the kiddies too much fashion it was difficult to latch onto anything approximating a genuine emotion, no matter that there were indications we were intended to run the gamut between laughter, tears and excitement. If it had just calmed down a bit then we might have appreciated it more.

Obviously a spot of frenetics doesn't go amiss when making an animation, especially one aimed at family audiences, but here it was as if the accelerator had been stuck deliberately and chaos was the result. Not helping was the sense that Del Toro had instructed his team to make up a list of everything Mexican they could think of and throw it all into the mix no matter if it succeeded, or even fitted, at all. Therefore one minute Manolo is a musician whose father wants him to be a bullfighter in the family tradition, the next we are in the underworld getting a crash course in what Mexicans believe the afterlife could possibly be like, and the results are a mishmash peppered with Mariachi versions of English language pop hits, or even Plácido Domingo showing up long enough to hit a high note or two. But the biggest problem was, if when you died you weren't really dead and could more or less continue as you had, what was the big deal about the whole premise of the movie? With characters firing off irreverent but bland quips every minute, it did seem very inconsequential. Music by Gustavo Santaolalla.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1376 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: