Saturday, 18 October 2014

Movie Review: The Book of Life

Previous Review: The Snow White Murder Case
Next Review: Kill The Messenger

The Book of Life is a refreshing new animated tale about Mexican folk beliefs, especially the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos), a day where families and friends gather to pray for and remember their loved ones who have died. Aside from its basic themes about love, family and friendship, The Book of Life features some mature, darker ones such as life and death, pursue your dreams, never forget those who have passed on and never stop looking forward to the future at the same time, always be yourself and never lose sight of who you are. The plot is done with enough wit, charm, humour and sincerity that makes it an enjoyable ride.

The story is mainly about three childhood friends, Manolo, Joaquin and Maria who got caught in a wager going on between the Mexican lords of the underworld, La Muerte (ruler of The Land of the Remembered) and Xibalba (ruler of The Land of the Forgotten). These deities each pick a champion between these two boys and bet on who can win Maria's heart and marry her. So best friends become bitter love rivals for a woman's heart. Aside from that, Manolo is torn between following his heart to become a musician or satisfy his dad's expectation to continue the family's legacy.

The film is beautiful, stylish and visually stunning. Despite its darker tone, the film doesn't feel terrifying at all. It shows us a world filled with wonder and spectacle, especially The Land of the Remembered, which is full of vibrant, lively colours despite the fact that it's actually the land of the undead. It provides us unique, captivating character designs and set pieces with close attention to detail about Mexican culture and traditions. The characters are strong, charming and lovable. The film did a fine job addressing the importance of remembering our loved ones who have died. The love triangle between Manolo, Maria and Joaquin is well developed as well.

The songs chosen for the film were great, breathes life into the scenes and provide the necessary emotional impact to keep the audience engaged throughout the film. I do admit there are a few plot contrivances here and there, but remember, this is still a kids/family film, so just cut it some slack and give it a chance. Some of the voice actors did a good job imitating the Mexican accent to make it feel like an authentic Mexican animation. Overall, it's a charming, sweet romantic film with surprising depth and plenty of heart that's good enough for both kids and adults to enjoy at the same time. A recommended watch.

Rating: 8/10

Previous Review: The Snow White Murder Case
Next Review: Kill The Messenger

No comments:

Post a Comment