Gavin Miller is suitably impressed by fantasy adventure The Book of Life...
This is the animation equivalent of the Mexico land in Epcot’s World Showcase at Disney World – after several shots of tequila.
Acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro – the man behind Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy and Pacific Rim – is on production duties for this vibrantly colourful fantasy-adventure, which shines through its heavy dose of Latin spirit.
The ‘Romeo and Juliet’ love story crossed with the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ backdrop, will probably be a bit too niche for the under eights to really understand – with a more adult spin akin to Disney/Pixar films – but there’s no denying the creativity at play, even though the gag-count could have been a little higher.
The Book of Life tells the legend of conflicted musician/bullfighting hero Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna), who sets off on an epic quest through three magically -mythical worlds in order to rescue his one true love Maria (Guardian of the Galaxy’s Zoe Saldana) – who is also being courted by Channing Tatum’s town protector Joaquin – after the spirits bet on who will win her affections.
Unfortunately Xibalba (Ron ‘Hellboy’ Perlman) doesn’t want to lose the bet and sends a snake to kill Manolo – which sends the young man on a journey to the eclectically surreal underworld of ‘The Land of the Remembered’ where he must face his greatest fears.
While some may find The Book of Life hampered by its ‘out there’ storyline – with some kids probably suited to more mainstream offerings – this deserves plaudits for some immense craft and gorgeously-animated visuals.
For those assailant points alone make this one book well worth reading – in 3D if at all possible.