With the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), being celebrated around the same time as Halloween, 20th Century Fox brings in their new animated movie, “The Book of Life,” directed by Jorge Gutierrez.
The storyline of this movie has multiple plots, as the whole movie takes place in a book of tales called The Book of Life. The tale that the movie focuses around has the two gods, La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman), attending the Day of the Dead festival in the town of San Angel’s. The gods see two boys, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquín (Channing Tatum), trying to win the heart of a high spirited girl, María (Zoe Saldana). Xibalba bets she will choose Joaquín, whereas Muerte bets on Manolo, with both gods wagering their worlds to one another. María gets in trouble with her father General Posada (Carlos Alazraqui) and is shipped away to a boarding school.
After years of the training, Manolo become a famous bullfighter, whereas Joaquín becomes the town hero with help from Xibalba. When María returns to the town, she finds that her father has arranged for her to marry Joaquín. However, María finds that she has more feelings for Manolo. Afraid of losing the bet, Xibalba summons a snake to kill Manolo. During a secret meeting María is bitten by the snake in front of Manolo. Thinking she is dead, Manolo gives up his life to Xibalba so he can be with her in death. However, when the snake bites him, he finds that he has been tricked by Xibalba and María is still alive. Now Manolo must find a way to get out of the afterlife known as The Land of the Forgotten, and get back to the World of the Remembered to be reunited with María.
This movie has multiple good plots and the animation is very stunning, having a style not seen in movies before. Jorge Gutierrez’s helped animate the movie as well, bringing the same style as some of his past TV cartoon “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera.” The Spanish atmosphere gives the movie an excuse to use bright, vivid color schemes and multiple Mexican type themes with cacti, sombreros, and mariachi bands. What’s even better is that the characters are made to look like marionettes. The movie does a good job of being original and using its colors and style to an advantage, having many gorgeous and creative scenes.
However, one thing becomes an issue the farther the movie progresses. The many plots that come up in the movie make it very difficult to follow along. With so many things taking place, the movie becomes cluttered with exposition. Another issue is that though María is free-spirited, she still has to wait to marry a man. Though this isn’t a major issue it has upset some viewers that are more into the independent, heroic woman aspect that has become more popular in cinema.
With the animation of this film being some of the best viewed this year, “The Book of Life” is definitely a movie for the whole family to see, even if it has confusing plots. This movie gets a rating of 4.5/5.