The Book of Life- Reel Fx Creative Studios
Halloween is more heart-felt then ever before when it comes to what people are doing with animation. It's simply stunning watching this movie move by, I tell you.
I went and saw The Book of Life with my younger sister this past weekend. It was my choice of movie this time and we had a really interesting time. I've seldom ever seen anything like this before. Just from the trailer alone, you can tell you're in for something spectacular in how new it comes across design and animation wise. Truthfully, this movie moves and flows so well that its hard to even wager a guess at how they even managed what they did.
The brief, spoiler-free plot going on here revolves around a group of detention students arriving at a museum. They're the delinquents so they're given "special" treatment by the tour-guide and taken to a bright room with plastic figurines that make up the characters of the tale she wishes to tell them. It's about a boy named Manolo and his two best friends, Joaquín and María. Manolo's a boy who loves singing and is generally really kind-hearted. Joaquin is a bit more rough around the edges but he's ultimately a very good person as well. Both of them desire the heart of the young and beautiful María. It starts as a cute kiddie crush but a certain development makes it a bit more serious down the line.
Anyway, the two Gods in the movie are what drive the plot forward. Again, without giving anything important away it's basically a tale that gets pushed forward because these two Gods got bored and decided to make a wager. Don't you just love it when Gods do that? "Oh yeah, humans are gettin' boring now. Wanna fuck with them?" Granted, La Muerte, the ruler of the Land of the Remembered is generally kind-hearted and lovable. In contrast, the Ruler of the Land of the Forgotten is a bit of an asshole. His name is Xibalba and his motivation stems purely from being tired of ruling over the grim and depressing Land of the Forgotten. Even though he has no trouble going into the human world whenever he wants because he's a God, he just can't deal with the fact that he rules over something he doesn't like as much. He's not evil. He's just a dick. A delightful dick whose very entertaining to watch and has an awesome voice (Ron Perlman, who plays the Lich on Adventure Time, the Fire-Lord from Avatar the Last Airbender, Slade from Teen Titans, and Mr. Lancer from Danny Phantom to name a few). Oh yeah, and Ice-Cube is in this movie. If you see it, you'll know which major character he plays the instant he shows up.
The music, I found out, were actually covers from other songs. It didn't really seem all that easy to notice though since they were done in a nice Mexican style and weren't just straight rifts. That and the fact that only two songs were recognizable to me helped. One of them was played in the trailer as an obvious joke too, which is appreciated. Because it was funny.
The movie moves at an incredibly fast passe. Sometimes to it's detriment but it's actually pretty easy to ignore once you're wrapped up in the story. Sometimes it can be a little harder to ignore then other times. Specific scenes that I felt required a bit more breathing room to get the full weighted emotion out weren't given as much justice and attention as I would have hoped a few times. When they were though, it worked really well.
In fact there's a moment near the end of the movie in the middle of the climax that had one of these moments done so right it actually made me cry a little.
That's the thing to take away from this. It's got stellar animation and a really unique style but the important thing beyond that is that it's got a lot of heart, despite a lot of dead people making appearances within it. I would recommend it. It's really something to behold.