Book of Life
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From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes an animated comedy with a unique visual style. THE BOOK OF LIFE is the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears. Rich with a fresh take on pop music favorites, THE BOOK OF LIFE encourages us to celebrate the past while looking forward to the future.
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However. BoL suffers from a United States Hollywood lense that's really, disappointing. The main character designs are beautiful, well structured and fit the world. Every other character was designed like a mess. Your eyes sorta begin to hurt witch such clashing artstyles. The intro scene has a very, cheap tv-show animation budget. Characters aren't rendered properly, crude cut in the bad way. Then the style switches to the wooden toy look, BUT tried to pull in a 2D/Claymation for every background character. They simply look ugly and out of place. Many times I had to pause because the switching of style so rapidly comes out of nowhere, you'll genuinely ask, "Wait, what just happened?? Did the character artist working on this scene just, not do it? Why do half of these characters look so, bad?"
Another unfortunate problem BoL is the lack of spanish songs. A majority of the music is not original. Mostly popular songs you haven't heard for awhile and you'll be like, "I think I've heard that before?" Or the joke mariachi band will belt out a pop song. Namely, with the cover versions, the lyrics match the scene in the movie, but the context is out of place. An example being, "I Will Wait" the original song is folk guitar, soulful. The cover comes off as a child singing mariachi, which of course, matches the scene, but not the tone. This is where the film really suffers as the heart of the story could've been carried out with original inspired songs that tie to the history and culture of Mexico and forgive the artistic style.
Some of the jokes were funny, either actually or slapstick. Character dynamics and interaction were wonderful. But this movie is very short, the second half feels very rushed. Which, for a kid's movie that's not so bad but you sorta feel cheated. Character's were well established in the very beginning but would benefit from sort of growth throughout the rest of the story.
This movie tries to sell itself as being about the Day of the Dead but that takes a backseat sorta like a Valentines day movie. Character's are doing things in a setting and "Oh yeah it's also a holiday! We all literally forgot."
I also appreciate that it's not the typical European mythos, but shows a rich world view that many may be unfamiliar with. I like that my son is getting some exposure to more traditions. The girl must fight against some expectations, the boys must as well. It was also a good way for us to talk a little about death, and have more discussion around ghosts and scary things. Little one is currently having some fears (expected for his age) and this allowed for us to talk about some of the things he can do, and how some things that may look scary are good.