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I Bet You Didn't See... The Book of Life

Contains Spoilers!!!

The Book of Life was something rather unique to me when I first saw it and it has stuck with me as one of my favourite films. There is a charm and a vibrancy I love. It was also the first film that really got me to appreciate the nature of la Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

The Book of Life is a story about Xibulba (Ron Pearlman) wagering La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) that Joaquin (Channing Tatum) will beat Manolo (Diego Luna) to marrying Maria (Zoe Saldana). Manolo ends up going on adventure through the Land of the Remembered to get back to Maria and to save their town of San Angel from bandits.

Manolo is the youngest member of a family of bullfighters who, much to his father’s disappointment, would rather go around town singing and playing guitar with the local mariachi band. So immediately, this film becomes a musical. Diego Luna has a very good and rather unique voice and Zoe Saldana is very good too in the little pieces she sings. The other main voice actor that sings is the great Placido Domingo, who plays Jorge Sanchez, Manolo’s granduncle, a pirate bullfighter with an eyepatch and swords replacing one arm and one leg.

"No retreat, no surrender!"

The film starts in a typical animation style with some schoolchildren being told the story, and then when the main story is introduced it is told with the characters as the wooden articulate toys that the children are shown. This makes the feel of the film rather special. I’ve never seen that used before and I really enjoyed it. The ‘five-o’clock shadows’ on the male puppets are made to look like and extra layer of older wood and the fact that the comic characters literally fall to pieces when scared makes for additional laughter.

It’s a lovely little piece that’s perfect for a family Halloween movie night, and the characters would make amazing kids costumes! It’s funny, moving, lively and catchy, with some brilliant tweaks that appeal to the older viewers.

Directed by: Jorge R. Gutierrez

Screenplay by: Jorge R. Gutierrez, Doug Langdale

Starring: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum

Released: October 12th, 2014

My Rating: 8/10

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