Quite simply, gorgeous. That’s the most important thing about The Book of Life. It arrives from Reel FX Creative Studios, a studio which could previously only boast 2013’s universally panned Free Birds, a run of the mill, fluffy animal animation. The Book of Life is a breath of fresh air from the melee of squawking, talking, anthropomorphic adventures which plague half term holiday cinema schedules. This time Reel FX give a tender physicality to their digital creations, giving them the appearance
of beguiling wooden dolls, with a mesmerising attention to background and foreground detail. No doubt owing much to having Guillermo de Toro on board as a producer, The Book of Life is rich with creativity, taking Mexican folklore for inspiration, crafting an elegant story of gods, bullfighting, rivalry, romance and the afterlife decorated with delicate technicolour.
Whilst it boasts the usual A-list voice cast (Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Ron Pearlman), it’s truly an animator’s film and it’s no surprise director Jorge Gutiérrez comes from a background as exactly that. The film only missteps with some of its musical choices, the inclusion of recognisable pop songs somewhat undermines its own creativity and distinctiveness. It is still an unlikely marvel of a film, likely to stand the test of time, equally appealing to adults as children and one in which the viewer can easily become washed away in its exquisite, fantastical world.
Review by David Rank
The Book of Life is out on 24th October in the UK and out now in the US. Running time 95 mins. Certificate U (UK).