Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Movie Reviews: The Book of Life

By Perry S. Chen, Amazing Movie Reviews! Columnist

 

The animated movie “The Book of Life” begins when a school bus arrives at a history museum, full of rowdy, mischievous children. An experienced female tour guide leads the students on a secret tour, and tells them about the most famous Mexican legend of all time, written within the magical book of life. The main characters of the folktale are Joaquin, Manolo, and Maria. Manolo’s passion is music, despite his father’s pressure for him to become a bullfighter. Joaquin hopes to become a soldier and avenge the death of his father. Both boys are in love with Maria, and would do anything to win her love.

On the Day of the Dead, an argument arises between the two Gods of the Dead. Xibalba is the ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, a bleak and dismal realm where forgotten souls are erased from existence. He is tired of living in his shadowy realm. He covets the Land of the Remembered, a joyous realm of endless festivity where souls of the deceased live on the memories of their loved ones. However, the Land of the Remembered is ruled by the Goddess La Muerte, who won’t give up her dominion so easily. Spying the three children, Xibalba makes a wager on which boy Maria would marry, the winner gets full control of the underworld. He bets on Joaquin, while La Muerte bets on Manolo. Most of the story focuses on Manolo and tells things from his point of view, about 20 years later.

“The Book of Life” is a colorful, lighthearted, and festive movie, full of comedy and nonstop excitement. The movie is fast-paced, with constant music, action, and drama happening every second. The character designs are uniquely stylized, and are largely made up of geometric shapes. Each character’s joints are connected with screws, and the texture of wood is slightly visible on the skin, always reminding the viewer that they are only puppets. Every bit of the visuals, from the patterns on garments to the shapes in the architecture, has deep Hispanic influence.

Although “The Book of Life” has many great qualities, there are still things I don’t like. Firstly, to me the concept of two guys fighting over one girl feels so bland and unoriginal, seeing as countless movies have done it beforehand. At times, the nonstop action sequences could be a bit overwhelming. Most of all, I feel that the film didn’t portray its message of love very well. It seemed that, in the movie, Maria is some sort of prize to be won, acquired by performing various tasks for her, especially on the part of Joaquin. Not enough time is spent on actually showing how love profoundly affected each of the male characters, other than one or two examples on the part of Manolo.

At the very end of the movie, one of the boys did, indeed, marry Maria. The thing that made me question the supposed “depth” of the love that the losing man felt for Maria was because, once he realized Maria was already taken, he happily flirted with all the other girls. He didn’t even seem to care that the supposed “love of his life” was gone forever; it was as if Maria never mattered at all. Last thing I’ll point out: I didn’t really expect anyone else to win the hand of Maria either (it’s pretty easy to guess).

I recommend this film to ages 9 and up. “The Book of Life” is a rollicking, exciting comedy that is a pretty well-rounded film overall. If you are looking for an exciting and entertaining film, then I would definitely recommend “The Book of Life”. I give this movie 3.5 starfish.

3.5-starfish-TM1

Moral: Stay true to yourself no matter what.

One comment

  1. Jeanette /

    I completely agree the movie has it’s flaws but in the end, it’s pretty good.