A film review.
Directed by Jorge Gutierrez
The plot is a story inside a story. A bunch of kids go to the museum, where they are told the story of the Book of Life by the museum guide.
The story begins with two Gods, La Muerte and Xibalba, making a wager as to who will rule the Land of the Remembered by making a bet on which boy will marry Maria, Manolo or Joaquín. The girl leaves for Spain. Manolo struggles to live up to the family legacy of bull fighting, and Joaquín becomes a warrior with the help of Xibalba, who wants to win the wager at any cost. Years later Maria comes back to the town. The two fight for her, and eventually Manolo and Joaquín save the day.
This film is so corny, I cringed half the time. There are so many cliches its unbelievable.
The plot was obvious from the beginning, there were no unexpected turns. The entire film played out on stereotypes and values that the audience is familiar with, there was nothing unexpected. The characters burst into song every couple of minutes and the lyrics are so sugar coated it’s almost unbearable to listen to. There were moments I wanted to just fast- forward because I knew what would happen.
The only thing that kept me going were the visuals. The landscape design was spectacular. The character design I liked 50/50. The designs were all rendered in “wood”, but it turned out to be a strange 3D animation. The arms of the men were separated into three parts which was strange. Some of the character designs were so odd that I couldn’t make out their facial features.
There were funny memorable moments. There was a part where Manolo and Joaquín were fighting, and the band players throw him a guitar. When he looked at them to pass them a weapon, the band player asked, “what, you wanted a banjo?” Past the cliche plot, the cultural richness, character design, and diversity of the world this animation portrays is wonderful.