Movie Review: The Book of Life

The Book of Life

This movie is adorable from start to finish. But seriously what the hell is up with the art style for this movie. Pretty much everyone has a horrible looking gherkin type thing for a nose. Anyway, art aside, if I had to summarise this movie and the man standing behind me with a gun to my head says I do then I’d say it’s a story about conflicts between gods, wagers involving people as their playthings and a whole lot of Mexico.

There is nothing inaccurate about that description although it suggest nothing of the heart that this movie has or the singing….oh god the singing. You really do root for the characters as well whether it’s the rebellious Maria, brash but brave Joaquin or the sensitive Manolo. Each of them wins you over in some way during the movie.

Maria in particular is impressive, not only is she’s a strong and attractive female character but she’s not solely defined by the man or men in her life and is more than capable in her own right. If I had to pick a tagline for this movie and oh look There’s the man with the gun again I’d probably pick: “No retreat no surrender”. Truly words to live by….don’t you agree?

The movie sets up fairly early the love between these three children and the destiny which lies before each of them and the journey is seeing whether they follow the future written for them or whether they make their own stories. The entire soundtrack is phenomenal. I have all the songs on my phone and I listen to them when I need a quick pick me up. Music is also very important to the story as well, not only is it Manolos true passion but also part of the heart of the movie.

Speaking of which, I really do love musical transitions for characters aging, reminds me of The Lion King. Oh and while we are touching on Disney, I have a soft spot for comic animal sidekicks. Talking or otherwise and Chewey the Pig joins the Likes of Abu from Aladdin, Pascal from Tangled or Sven from Frozen. 

This film really portrays the weight of expectations and duty. As wakin says “those are some big shadows we live under eh buddy”. Also when talking about Joaquin I keep forgetting that Channing Tatum is in this it’s just so weird. He was good though.

I’m a sucker for a good hero, someone pure of heart who does the right thing not out of duty or because it’s what is expected but because he feels it in his core so I really identified with Manolo as I expect you were supposed to but there’s a lot to be said of Wakin. He might be cocky and with an over inflated sense of ego but he was given power from a god and he used it to protect people sure he did it for glory but there’s no selfless good deed because they make us feel good and he spent the better part of his youth protecting the innocent.

Best line in the movie by far: “I’m allergic to dying….especially in the face”.

Wakin might be badass because of his medal but I will admit manolos bullfighting is impressive. It’s easy to see why his family have been revered as bullfighters for centuries. Despite the Mexican locale and the obviously it being entirely the wrong time period for that song I liked hearing Manolos rendition of creep by Radiohead. Speaking of which Maybe I’ve been ruined by musicals but I also believe a good song can really solve anything. And I love the songs coming out of this. The really reach you, the familiar get you singing along and the original tracks are engaging on a whole other level

I loved the meeting between Manolo and his dearly departed family. They are an eclectic and funny bunch in their own right and each parrots the words of their family about honour and bullfighting but in the end they still embrace their own self. Speaking of bullfighting Manolo might not have the heart to kill a bull but he certainly has balls because he challenged an actual god face to face.

I loved the final bullfight in the land of the forgotten firstly because it reeks of a boss battle but secondly because he makes up for all the harm his family has caused by bullfighting and earned forgiveness. Also the song he sings is so touching. Instead of fighting he sings from his heart.

This movie at its core is about bravery. Not to fight but to live as you want no matter what and to be kind in an judgemental world. The book of life is all about the stories and writing your own and it’s a lovely little film that I suggest everyone watch at some point. I think I’ll rate this an 8/10.


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