For Reel

The Book of Life (2014)
October 27, 2014, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Jorge Gutierrez
3.5 StarsThe Book of Life
In a contemporary framing device in which a group of initially disinterested kids are introduced to Mexican folklore, it seems clear that writers Jorge R. Gutierrez (also the director) and Doug Langdale are begging audiences to stick with it. With an unusually convoluted plot and a distinct art style (in which many of the characters resemble marionettes of sort), The Book of Life isn’t comfortably grouped in with the run-of-the-mill animation films that audiences are used to seeing, even if many of the basic themes and premises are preserved. It’s this ambition that makes it easy to forgive the occasional misstep, such as the over-reliance on pop culture gags and the rather humdrum climactic battle. None of the characters are particularly memorable, with Maria (voiced by Zoë Saldana) coming the closest with her progressively feminist characterization. Yet the film reliably provides the thrills where it counts–the visions of the underworld are vividly rendered with neon greens and purples, and it’s exciting to see what is ostensibly a kid’s film feature heroes that have the potential to die.

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