The Official MSBS Movie Review: The Book of Life

ModernSpongeBobSucks
Hey, guys! Since I’ve been on my hiatus for so long, I’ve decided to present to you my first… SUPER OFFICIAL-

Daym Drops: DAYM! DAYM! DAYM! (charges at me while wearing a bull costume)
Me: I’m a minor, stop! I wasn’t trying to copy you, Daym- (gets rammed)

*PLEASE STAND BY*

Me: (regains consciousness) Oh, man… that what was one hell of a hit. Is there a pharmacy around here? My gut needs a painkiller. Where am I? (looks at my hands and sees that my entire body is now made out of bones)
Captain: Welcome to the Land of the Remembered!
Me: What happened to me?
Captain: You are now in the land where those who have passed away and are remembered are sent here to live for the rest of their afterlife. You were apparently killed by a guy in a bull suit who rammed into you right in the gut.
Me: Oh. Thanks, man.
Captain: No problem. (rides away on his horse into the outskirts of the Land of the Remembered)

Anyways, today, in order to make up for being on hiatus more than usual, I’ve decided to return to TheTopTens with not only my Soul Eater Not! Rant, but also my first movie review. For this movie review, I will be reviewing the 2014 film The Book of Life. I first watched the movie when my Spanish teacher apparently played this movie to me and my class after our midterms were over since it was a movie relating to Dia de los Muertos, aka in English, The Day of the Dead. As it is close to Halloween, as well as The Day of the Dead, I felt it was perfect to release this review as a bonus post just in time for that occasion. So without further ado, let’s begin my SUPER OFFICIAL-

Daym Drops: DAYM! DAYM! DAYM! (his body now made out of bones)
Me: Not you, again! I thought you were still alive! (grabs a nearby quilt and uses it to trick Daym Drops into ramming into a wall where his horns have now stuck him to it)
Me: ¡Olé! How the hell did he get here? (Sees that a sword has been stabbed right into his chest) Oh. Bull Lives Matter, lol.

So The Book of Life takes place in the Mexican town of San Angel, where our main characters Manolo Sánchez, Joaquín Mondragon, and María Posada have been friends ever since childhood. Even though they have been forced to take different paths in their lives -- Manolo becoming a bullfighter in order to maintain the Sánchez family tradition, Joaquín joining the military to become the town hero, and María being sent to study in a boarding school in Spain -- they are still good friends, with Manolo and Joaquín both wanting to marry María. However, little do they know that the husband-and-wife deities Xibalba and La Muerte have struck a wager over which of the two men will win María’s heart.

Animation, art, and music: The Book of Life’s animation isn’t handled by big-name animation studios such as Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, or Blue Sky Studios. Rather, its animation is handled by the animation studio Reel FX. If you’re familiar with that animation studio, you would probably know that their first feature film just so happens to be the 2013 film Free Birds, which had received negative reception from critics. However, The Book of Life also happens to be the next feature film that Reel FX produced after Free Birds, only this time, reception was more positive from critics, albeit polarizing. Anyways, when I first saw The Book of Life, I was quite bedazzled at the unique animation style of the movie. Now I forgot to mention this, but this movie actually takes place in not one world, but three worlds in total. Reel FX takes the liberty of putting tons of creativity into the entire movie, starting by beginning The Book of Life at a museum, where a group of school detention students are taken on a secret tour by their tour guide. In a secret exhibit, you start to get a feel of what the vivid and lively world where the movie takes place in is going to be like as you are told from a storytelling narrative by the tour guide to the kids about the the tale of San Angel from The Book of Life, which is a book that holds every story in the world. It’s from there that you then start to experience the Mexican setting of San Angel, with the creativity of the film truly reaching its peak in the background design of the Land of the Remembered, which does an astounding job at keeping with the movie’s theme of Dia de los Muertos. As for the art, I loved the character designs of the main characters and the villagers in San Angel to the bandit forces of Chakal and the inhabitants of the Land of the Remembered in the afterlife, as they all were designed in the style of Mexican wood puppets, which really makes you feel more immersed as if you were with the kids who were being told the story of San Angel by the tour guide. But most importantly, the character designs that stood out to me the most would have to be the designs of Xibalba and La Muerte. Finally, I really enjoyed the soundtrack of The Book of Life, which primarily consists of covers of pop songs. Honestly, I thought that the voice actors of the characters did a great job doing covers of those songs, especially in my all-time favorite cover song from the film, No Matter Where You Are. I even preferred the cover version sung at the end of the movie over the original by Us the Duo (although, they do an amazing job singing that song as well). There are some other cover songs that I liked as well as original songs from The Book of Life, including The Apology Song by Manolo, which was really touching to listen to.

Story: Of course, a love triangle is nothing new to see in the film industry. Basically, The Book of Life is to love stories as Attack on Titan is to fighting giants in order to save humanity. However, like Attack on Titan, the main highlight of the story is not how creative or unique it is, but rather how well-executed the story is. Again, the entire story of the movie is all told from a storybook perspective, which helps to tie in with the love story told in the movie, as the movie is categorized in the genres of fantasy, romance, and musical comedy. In addition, the creators manage to bring out something unique in the love story, helping to make sure that this isn’t just your average cheesy Prince Charming film. Also, the concept of there being a Land of the Remembered in the afterlife for those who are remembered (and a Land of the Forgotten in the afterlife as well for those who are forgotten) is quite an interesting and phenomenal idea. After all, once again, this movie’s theme is Dia de los Muertos. And, man, does The Book of Life do very well in keeping with that theme.

Characters: Most of the characters aren’t really anything new, as they’re mostly based on generic archetypes that you’ve probably seen before in many movies. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bland characters, as each one has their own unique charm to them. There’s our main hero of the movie, Manolo, who had wanted to be a musician ever since he was a kid, but was forced to be a bullfighter by his father in order to keep with the family tradition. While this may not sound like anything original, things such as Manolo’s strong love for María and his internal struggle of not wanting to kill a bull in a bullfight as he believes it’s wrong to do so makes Manolo a likeable protagonist, as he tries to fulfill the expectations of his family and friends. Then there’s Manolo’s childhood friend, Joaquín, who is the town hero and Manolo’s love rival with María. When I first saw him, I thought he was just going to be a macho jerk. However, throughout the movie, he actually turned out to be more likeable than I thought he was going to be. Despite competing with Manolo for the love of María, he actually still manages to still be close friends with Manolo despite their love triangle instead of just becoming a boring cliche antagonist. As for our hero's’ love interest, María, she actually turned out to be a stronger female character than I expected. I loved how she was a tough go-getter who doesn’t like the idea of planned marriage and being a damsel in distress. Trust me, when you see her character poster say, “Pretty. Tough.”, you better believe what that poster is saying. Finally, there’s the two deities Xibalba and La Muerte. Xibalba is the husband of La Muerte and acts as the secondary antagonist for a majority of The Book of Life. One aspect of Xibalba’s character that compelled me a lot was how he wasn’t all like, “I will destroy all of you!”, but rather how he was a devious and mischievous but lovable villain who only wants to rule the Land of the Remembered because of him growing tired of ruling the grim and grey Land of the Forgotten. Strangely, he reminds me of Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic not only in terms of design, but also personality as well. Moving on, La Muerte is the wife of Xibalba, who enters a wager with her husband Xibalba over which man will marry María in exchange for whether they remain rulers of their respective lands (La Muerte’s award) or switch places with what land they rule (Xibalba’s award). Now what I really loved most about the characters were that they each had their own unique personalities that made them likeable in their own ways and how they each had enough screen time to stand out as their own characters in the film. Plus, they all had their own unique designs to distinguish themselves from one another, whether it be Manolo’s family in the Land of the Remembered or his mariachi buddies. Lastly, the voice acting was quite superb. Starring Diego Luna as Manolo, Zoë Saldana as María, Channing Tatum as Joaquín, Ice Cube as the Candle Maker, Ron Perlman as Xibalba, Kate del Castillo as La Muerte, Christina Applegate as Mary Beth (aka, the tour guide who tells the story to the kids), etc.; the voice cast does a phenomenal job at each of their roles.

*record scratches* HOLD ON! HOLD ON! I just realized I watched the entire movie in Spanish with English subtitles in my Spanish class! Though, to be perfectly honest, the Spanish voice cast did a pretty good job too. Oh, well. I am planning to watch the English version with my sister soon.

Flaws: The only flaws I had with The Book of Life were that the story and the characters were nothing new. Other than that, I pretty much had no problem with this movie.

Conclusion: This movie is splendidly outstanding. I am so glad my Spanish teacher showed this movie to me and my class in time for Dia de los Muertos. The animation is so visually and aesthetically appealing, the music is awesome, the story is decent, the characters are interesting, the voice acting is excellently well-done, and the themes surrounding The Book of Life are just wonderful. Do you celebrate Dia de los Muertos? Watch this movie. Are you into Mexican culture? Watch this movie. Can’t think of a Halloween movie to watch? Watch this movie (Dia de los Muertos takes place from October 31st to November 2nd, so it’s A-OK to watch this movie even on the day of Halloween). Either way, The Book of Life is an enjoyable film for the whole family to watch. Here’s my final score for this movie:

9.0 out of 10.0 stars

Until then, peace! And if you’re reading this during the Halloween season, happy Halloween! And if you celebrate Dia de los Muertos in your culture, ¡Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Comments

This was an alright movie. Nice to see ya back! - ProPanda

Thanks! Happy Halloween! - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Good review, how about trying a story or stand up comedy blog post in the future? The stories don't have to be in a series, just a story post every once in a while. Nice to see you back, and nice that you're alive, since, well, you know, Hurricane Mathew.
PS : Made a myanimelist.net account and an account for the wikia. Both usernames are Skullkid755. - Skullkid755

Nah, I don't think I'm up for doing a story or stand up comedy blog post. However, one thing I would like to point out is how Hurricane Matthew reminded me of Therandom (since his name is Matt and the name of the hurricane is Matthew). - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I know I'm a power force of nature but I'm not that strong. - Therandom

Lol. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

For me, I was without power for 4 days. - Skullkid755

And school was out for one week and 3 days, and the first two days back were two hour delays. - Skullkid755

I recently started watching the YouTuber Daym Drops over my hiatus, so expect to see me talking a lot about the guy from now on. That guy is one funny food reviewer. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I loved this movie - Mcgillacuddy

Thanks! I'm glad you loved the movie. It's one of my favorite movies of all time now! - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Have you watched Kubo and the Two Strings. You'll like that one - Mcgillacuddy

I might watch it this year or the next year or so. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I don't know why this post had to be resubmitted to me. I thought it was going to be because I included Spanish letters and phrases in the post, but it turns out that it was just because of profanity. That's it? I had to revise my post just because I included ONE cuss word? Don't tell me they counted Daym as a cuss word. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

That's admin for you. - Therandom

Yup. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Okay, admin, I took out the word a**hole from my post. Now can you PLEASE approve the post now? - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Tip is to put a space between ass and hole - Mcgillacuddy

Splendid. Thanks for the tip. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Also, if you put any other curse word, censor it out with a few of these *******
The only highly profane word that they don't censor out is dick - Mcgillacuddy

This better at least get approved in time for Dia de los Muertos (even though I'm not Mexican, lol). - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I really like this movie, mainly because of the cultural aspect (by the way, not Mexican either). It's just really cool. (I said an unfinished version of this earlier, so just ignore that one). - Elric-san

Thanks. I appreciate the comment. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I'm celebrating Dia De Los Meurtos in Spanish class tommorow - ProPanda

Cool. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Happy Dia De Los Meurtos - Skullkid755

Nice Review - VideoGamefan5

Thanks. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

¡Feliz Dia de los Muertos! - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I saw your profile picture, I haven't watched this movie, but I just realized I saw it's advertisements!
Or am I thinking of another movie after seeing your new picture? - Skullkid755

I'm pretty sure the picture is seen in both the advertisements and the movie itself. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I thought the title of the movie was familiar. - Skullkid755

No Daym Drops were harmed during the making of this post. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Yay! My post finally got approved! - ModernSpongeBobSucks

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