Just in time for the Day of the Dead, comes the new animated feature by producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez, “The Book of Life.” In a unique visual style, “The Book of Life” reveals the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three magical worlds where he must face his greatest fears.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Katherine S. and Morgan B. share their thoughts on the film.
I love this movie. It’s a terrific, animated family film full of adventure. It’s visually spectacular with fantastic sets, costumes, and intriguing characters. And, it has a great positive message.
The movie begins with a museum tour guide telling students on a field trip about “The Book of Life.” She is voiced by Christina Applegate, who serves as narrator throughout, which is especially helpful with all of the flashback and flash-forward scenes.
The book starts with a flashback to three children. Maria, Manolo, and Joaquin who are childhood best friends, living in San Angel, the “center of the world” in Mexico, in the Land of the Living (aka Earth).
As they grow up, we see the two grown men compete for Maria’s affection. The story revolves around the celebration of the Day of the Dead, when Mexicans celebrate their loved ones who have passed away. As legend has it, as long as they are beloved, they live in the Land of the Remembered. For those not remembered well, they live in the Land of the Forgotten. The two rulers of these two lands, Muerta and Xibalba, make a wager on which boy will marry Maria. The winner gets to rule the Land of the Remembered.
Great adventure and drama ensues as Manolo and Joaquin, voiced by Diego Luna and Channing Tatum, compete to win Maria’s heart, and fend off the pressures of their families’ expectations, while saving their hometown. Joaquin’s father was a war hero and Manolo comes from a long line of bull fighters, though he prefers to sing and play guitar.
My favorite part is when Manolo visits the Land of the Remembered and is reunited with his mother, grandfather, and great-grandfather, both matador heroes, who were killed. He learns of their common musical interests, too, and what his mother really wanted him to be.
This film has a terrific message: To never stop fighting for what you believe in, to follow your own dreams, and be true to your heart.
The music throughout the movie is awesome and helps tell Manolo’s story, especially the songs “I Will Wait” and “The Apology Song.”
The three sets are very distinctive and perfect for each of the three realms: San Angel is a beautiful town in the present day. The Land of Remembered is a colorful, vibrant, happy place; and the Land of the Forgotten is dull, gray, and has spiky architecture.
I really enjoyed the animation. The characters are wood-like with joints like Pinocchio. The boys have broad shoulders and super skinny legs. Maria and the other girls have skinny waists, full Mexican skirts, and dramatic hair and eyes. While I love it in 3D, the animation is so good, it will be great in 2D also.
This is an all-around great family film. I recommend it for families with kids ages 7 to 18. There are some intense bull-fighting scenes, and slightly scary music and fights in the Land of the Forgotten. I give this film a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. Be sure to check out “The Book of Life,” which is in theaters now.
— Katherine S.
See her video review at http://youtube/3x1X_JQzZAk
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Twentieth Century Fox brings a new animated to the big screen just in time to celebrate the Day of the Dead, from Nov. 1-2, 2014.
This animated feature is colorful and festive, and I enjoyed learning about all the different cultural beliefs of Latin America, including Mexico’s Day of the Dead [“Dia de los Muertos”]. This movie is funny, cute, and the story keeps your attention from beginning to the end.
Many of the movies we see today seem like the same story or theme told in different ways. This movie is truly an original. There are many hints of movies you have seen before but overall, it is truly a different movie. The animators’ attention to detail is impressive.
The characters are made of wood but, after the first five minutes, you see them as real people. The intercut details are astonishing. The unique personalities and different characters will keep you entertained. Animals, people, spirits — this movie has it all.
Maria is my favorite, because she is a little girl with cute pigtails. She is fun, bubbly, tough, and adventurous. Her independence gets her in trouble, but at the same time, it is her greatest asset. We watch her grow from a child to a young lady. She keeps the same spirit and kind heart. She must choose to marry one of her two best friends. Zoe Saldana voices the character and really brings her to life.
The candlestick maker, voiced by Ice Cube, is laugh-out-loud funny. Even though he is not in the movie for very much time, you will leave with a smile on your face just thinking about him.
Gabriel Iglesias, Cheech Marin, and Hector Elizondo are three amigos who try to help one of our heroes win Maria’s hand in marriage. The singing group is hilarious. The song choices are great and made me giggle.
There are many messages in this film. The two heroes follow in their fathers’ footsteps. We see how it is important to remember your ancestors but also know that you are your own person and should follow your own path. Although it has been a long-standing tradition, bull fighting is beginning to be thought of as wrong. The bulls should be allowed to live. We see how it takes a whole village of people to protect and look out for each other and how everyone needs to be on the same team helping everyone else.
I recommend this movie to kids ages 7 to 18. Although it is entertaining, it is still about death, and there is violence. I give this movie 5 out of 5 twinkling stars.
— Morgan B., age 9