HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Benediction
Nezha Reborn
Evil Toons
Worst Person in the World, The
Whirlpool
Hunter Will Get You
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
Revolver
Men, The
Parallel Mothers
Sadness, The
Bloody New Year
Faye
Body Count
Spider-Man: No Way Home
'Round Midnight
Wild Men
Barry & Joan
Wake Up Punk
Twin, The
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
One of These Days
Lift to the Scaffold
Savage Dawn
Rest in Pieces
Innocents in Paris
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Beyond the Door 3
Jules et Jim
Love Jones
Saint-Narcisse
Souvenir Part II, The
Knockabout
400 Blows, The
Virus: 32
Studio 666
Great Movement, The
Lost in La Mancha
Cellar, The
Sacred Spirit, The
   
 
Newest Articles
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
   
 
  Book of Life, The Hispanic Panic
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, FantasyBuy from Amazon
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 3626 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Enoch Sneed
   

 

Last Updated: