#72: BOOK OF LIFE
Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate and Ice Cube. Written by Jorge Gutierrez and Doug Langdale and directed by Jorge Gutierrez. 95 minutes long.
This film is produced by Guillermo del Toro and it's utterly impossible not to see his fingers in each and every aspect of this animated film. It's a insanely detailed 3D world of such originality and much, much, MUCH texture and detail that it soon becomes quite impossible to take it all in and sadly that's the same with the rest of this film. It's just all so dense, the story and plot, which is still unwinding well into the third act never gives you time to take it all in.
For the film to get up and running properly, we first have to start in the present to meet a sassy group of rebel school kids on a tour of a boring old museum who get taken by a freakishly-big-eyed, sexy tour guide to a basement and tells them a story, using wooden dolls. Every now and then we cut back to them to see what sort of emotional reaction we should be feeling at that moment of the film. The story they're told revolves around two guardians of the underworld having a wager on who will marry whom in a love triangle, as witnessed one night during the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead. With three of the main characters introduced as children it's time to watch them separated, grow into adulthood before they all reunite and become embroiled in the aforementioned love triangle, that will see one of them sent to the World of the Dead to fight their way back before the newly introduced Mexican bandit king can raise their old hometown to the ground. And still that's not the whole story! I've not even mentioned the double cross, the incredible bull fight, the medal of invincibility or the million and one other things that Del Toro has crammed into each and every frame of this film. The end result is that all the six main characters can do is run, shout and sing and above all, keep running everywhere, least our attention wavers. It think this is a film for the ADHD generation.
In fact, there's just so much going on that that you can never just sit back and enjoy it. Despite it's superbly rendered world this has none of the elegant pacing or plotting of Pixar, indeed even at its worst (Cars 1 & 2, Monsters University) Pixar still rules when it comes to understanding how to structure and tell a story properly. Perhaps it's time for Del Torro to learn that the maxim, 'less is more'. It's never been more apt than when applied to an animated genre.
To complain about this film too much would be pointless, kids will love it, and there's enough for parents to enjoy too, but sadly I found the whole thing too relentless and too overblown. Still, it looked bloody lovely.