The book of life might not be one of the most expected movies of the year, or even one of the most interesting to be honest, yet is a fun and nice story that somehow tries to teach the world about this Mexican tradition call “Dia de los muertos” or “Day of the dead”. Or at least it tries, even if most of time the movie has nothing to do with it.
The Book of Life is a computer animated movie produced by Guillermo Del Toro and directed by Jorge R. Gutiérrez. Does that last name sounds familiar? As some of you could notice, the art style of the movie resembles a lot to Nickelodeon’s cartoon: El Tigre, and that’s because Jorge Gutiérrez is its creator.
Anyways the movies starts with a group of kids going on a museum tour. They are immediately greeted by Mary Beth, a museum guide who takes them through a secret door on one of the sides of the museum. Once inside, she starts talking about the La muerte, Xibalba and The Candle Maker, as well as the story of San Angel, a little Town in Mexico.
The movie starts with La muerte and Xibalba watching people on a graveyard as they celebrate the day of the dead, leaving flowers, food and candles for their dead relatives. Xibalba starts complaining about how he hates ruling the “Land of the Forgotten”, mostly because is a horrible place to be, and propose a bet to La muerte.
This is when we meet the 3 main characters: Maria, Manolo and Joaquin. They are friends with different kind of families: Manolo’s father is a bullfighter (along with his whole family), Maria’s father is a General and Joaquin’s father died fighting against a terrible bandit, called Chakal.
Now one of the of the things i found weird on the movie is that Chakal must be pretty old by the end of the movie, if he fought against Joaquin’s father and Joaquin itself later on the movie, but still he looks almost the same age as him.
Anyways, Xibalba bets that Maria is going to marry with Joaquin, and if he wins he will rule the “The land of the remembered”. La muerte accepts betting that Manolo will be Maria’s husband, and if she wins, Xibalba will no longer interfere with the mortal world. Xibalba cheats by giving a medal to Joaquin that will make him brave and invincible.
The story is not that deep to be honest: Both of them fall in love with her, she is sent away to a private boarding school in Spain. Joaquin becomes a brave hero thanks to Xibalba’s medal and Manolo becomes a skilled bullfighter, and soon he is going to have his first bullfight.
After some years they are reunited again, and how is to be expected, both of them are in love with Maria. Xibalba notices that Manolo is earning Maria’s love, and so he comes up with a plan. Maria is apparently killed, and Manolo asks Xibalba to send him to the Land of the remembered, so he can bring her back.
There he meets his whole family and apparently bullfighting has existed since the Aztecs (got to give them credit for that accurate historical fact). They look for La muerte, but she no longer reigns that land. And so that is the excuse for them to travel and search for her.
Meanwhile, Chakal is going to San Angel after he learns that Joaquin has the medal that made him invincible for so many years before Xibalba stole it back, and he plans to get it back leading his army of bandits.
After a while Manolo’s heart is tested in some kind of maze-pinball place (just because) and then the guardian allows him and his family to keep going. They meet the candle maker (which I looked for him on mythology and folklore, yet I don’t know who he is and why is so important)
From here on, the story isn’t that interesting to be honest: c so he can return to the world of the living, defeat a giant bull with the power of the music, and gets back in time with his family to defend San Angel from Chakal. He dies and then Maria marries Manolo. Everyone celebrates (Mexican Style), the end.
If you were expecting for the movie to have a great plot, or something that would make you cry, you are going to be disappointed, and what do you expect? This is a movie for the whole family and is made to entertain kids and grownups as well. What I can assure is that you are going to laugh a lot (at least I did)
The art style is pretty good, the characters are not really that deep or memorable, but still is a good family movie. Unlike some others, the humor on this one is generic and simple, but entertaining none the less. Perhaps it’s not at the same level as Pixar or Dreamworks’ movies, but I really enjoyed it and I’m sure you will as well.