Coming all the way from Texas, Reel FX brings us a new movie after Free Birds. The general consensus that I got about the movie was that the movie was good, can be a bit corny, but a good movie. Hearing that I was looking forward to Book of Life, especially seeing how pretty the Land of the Remembered is from trailers. The movie starts off as triangle love story where two boys/men fall in love with a girl and vie for her attention and hand in marriage. The catch is that the gods of the afterlife, La Muerte and Xibalba, have a wager going on of who wins the girl, and the prize being the one who gets to rule over the Land of the Remembered, which is far more appealing than the Land of the Forgotten. The story quickly becomes a whole lot more of growing up, becoming who you are, and creating your own life. The movie itself is told through an interesting way as the main plot is told as a story to a group of kids by a museum tour guide. I find it an odd choice as I did not feel the "present" world contributed a lot significantly to the plot and the movie could have probably just been told through the main story alone. The method does explain the artistic direction and stylized approach to why everything looks like wood figures but an art director could have just as easily said "I want the film to look this way and this is how it will be" without the whole preamble of being a story within a story.
I don't know a lot about the holiday Dia de la Muerte other than it is a Mexican holiday to celebrate/remember the dead. I took the characters and the representation of culture at face value. Now that I have the time to do some research, I've found that La Muerte is actually the figure Catrina popular in modern Dia de la Muerte and Xibalba is actually a place from Mayan mythology and not a figure at all. I haven't heard anyone become horribly offended and cry bloody murder for misappropriation of culture so all seems to be fine. La Muerte was beautiful and my favorite character. Xibalba was interesting with his skull eyes however I found him to be slightly too comedic for my tastes. I prefer my villains to be cold and haughty, like Maleficient, but Xibalba read more like Hades from Hercules. I am extremely iffy about the Candlemaker. I love the textures and shading on him as he looks amazing but there is already a large cast of characters and the Candlemaker character doesn't feel like he contributes anything significant. His character could have been cut out and the movie would have moved along fine without him. During the movie I had assumed that it might be because the Candlemaker was a central figure to the holiday but I could not seem to find anything about such a mythological figure.
The animation and humor involved a lot of slapstick. I generally enjoy a good pun but some of the comedy got me laughing. However what was somewhat disappointing though was that the only ones laughing seemed mainly to be the older audience, such as those who I went with. There were quite a number of children in the audience but they seemed to be generally silent through the movie. Maybe it's the Sunday morning crowd but most of the time I didn't hear them laughing and usually kids love slapstick.
Pixar had a Dia de la Muerte movie in the works but any news of it seems to have fallen silent. I don't know if it's still in the works or not as Inside Out and Good Dinosaur seems to be their current main focus or if it has fallen to the wayside and may end up similar to Newt that was ultimately cut and then got taken by Blue Sky to be remade into Rio.