#REVIEW: “THE BOOK OF LIFE”
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
The Toronto Connection certainly is there. Honourary Torontonian Guillermo del Toro loves our City and serving the role of Producer on The Book Of Life, his aesthetic influence on its Art Direction is unmistakable with occasional echoes of his Masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth seen in this latest Film from Writer and first-time Director, Jorge R. Gutierrez. Upon initial viewing, it is understandable why there are Awards Season rumblings here.
The animated Adventure focuses on two Characters who are in-competition to win beautiful Maria’s (Zoe Saldana) heart. We have Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) in a constant battle with one another, dating back to their childhoods. And this is where the Story truly gets interesting. In Mexico, it is said that there is a Land of the Remembered, and the Land of the Forgotten, ruled respectively here by La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman). The Rulers make a bet who will win the heart of Maria and eventually marry her. Should Xibalba win, he gets to govern the Land of the Remembered. As a Child, Joaquin is gifted by Xibalba a green skull medallion that will make him invincible to anything and anyone as long as he wears it, making him the Savior of the Town. Manolo is no fighter, despite being labeled a Bullfighter; he is persistent in his refusal to kill. The Book of Life takes us on a real Adventure as we wait eagerly to see who wins Maria’s heart and the consequences of this said wager.
The Voice Acting in this Film is phenomenal, taking it a different dimension. Saldana is absolutely alluring as the object of affection for Joaquin and Manolo. Tatum electrifies simply with his natural wit and charm. This aside, the Movie is as transcendent as it truly is due to the remarkable and breathtaking Animation we see throughout. We see some of the best Animation we’ve seen in recent memory here, making it an incredibly fun and joyous experience at the Movies.
The Book Of Life is one of the year’s best, proving once again the boundaries of Animation continue to be limitless, speaking to Moviegoers big and small.
20th Century Fox Canada release The Book Of Life on Friday, October 17th, 2014.