Finally! I get to talk about the movie/play where the Bible is explained through Star Wars I....eh...oh wait...that was 'The Book of Mormon.'
Here's this instead.WARNING(advertencia)
Spoilers ahead amigos. Hopefully I won't be long winded enough to give away some of the major visuals this movie has to offer; cause there's tons of them.
I know this movie has been out nationwide for some time now and I just saw it; but please sit back and listen to the story of how and why Mexico is the center of the universe. (Which makes me wonder how this movie never got banned in Arizona.)BOOK OF LIFE
Can you paste pretty vibrant visuals over a predictable story and still love it? Well of course you f**king can. This movie is proof of that. Hidden behind this fiesta of color, sugar skulls, sombreros, and all the other stereotypical crap we associate with our friends "South of the Border" is a story I heard many times before. But if you tell it with pretty visuals; me no mind. Heh heh...story no matter..pretty colors do!
Hmmm...must be losing a bit of my brain there.
Actually what else sells a tired story more than pretty colors? Pretty and interesting characters of course. And for the most part the movie does deliver on them. There are indeed a lot of colorful characters here to enjoy watching.
So again; like many animation films and shows I watch these days: the story is tired and true (as are what passes for jokes in this movie); but the visuals are amazing and stupendous. And as long as they inspire one to continue drawing as well as try new things in his/her craft as an artist who gives a mierda!?
I'll start it off as such. The story begins when a group of brats (one who looks like he left the band Gorillaz) being led into a museum by your standard gorgeous red headed mid twenties female tour guide. (All museums have those. ;D) Only she's taking the kids to a 'Mexican' exhibit that clearly wasn't funded by the state. (As you need a trick I saw once in 'Labyrinth' to get there.) So now that she's got the little monsters' attention, she begins to tell the kids about the mythology revolving around 'The Day of the Dead.' This involves a love story in which she gets the kids to listen to. So are we ready to sit along with them and listen? Yes? Then do it tour guide lady who's about to get Rule 34'ed.
See; when you're an immortal deity, sometimes it seems to be a good idea to make wagers with the other god-like schmucks. This usually involves dicking around with the fates of mortals whom you have dominion over. Enter our two entities; one is the most beautifully designed character in the movie: Le Meurta. Basic Espanol essentially spells her out as 'Death.' And Death never looked so fine in that red 'candle' dress. You know how people find ANYTHING attractive. This definitely goes for skeletons now. But in all seriousness she has such a superb design and an awesome outfit. Of course it's a major fire hazard for anyone wishing to cosplay as her and following it TOO closely. XD
Then there's the other deity; her husband(I think) Xibalba. He's named after the Mayan version of the Underworld; so he essentially is this films' Hades. (Disney's Hades too come to think of it; same kind of con man mannerisms. XD) Actually his design made me think he was heavily influenced by MLP's Discord. I could pretty much see it in his jawline. Plus he's gotta pretty sweet pair of wings. But what's more awesome about him? He's voiced by Ron f***king Perlman!!!
Oh and ignore the fact that when you hear his name it almost sounds like 'Sebulba'; that yak faced thing that lost to a young Anakin Skywalker. (Poo doo!)
So they witness the companionship of three little ninos: consisting of two chicos and one chica. Le Meurta and Ron Perlman (Xibalba) make a deal that one of these two boys will end up winning the heart of this chica fuerte independiente. Winner gets to rule the less depressing version of 'the afterlife.' See this goes to show you how boring eternal life is and being ruler over a bunch of souls. Essentially you start making bets with other deities almost on a whim. Still wondering why God would make a bet with Satan to get Job to curse His name. Seems no matter how nice Le Muerte is; she's not above making a bet with her brooding husband Xibalba. Ah well; death's just another part of life so what does she care? Bet's on.
One of these boys grows up to be a bull fighter wanting to become a singer: Manalo. The other grows up to be the 'Town Hero': Joaquin. Who happens to be voiced by Channing Tatum. XD So yeah; already they're playing up this fact for laughs with all his flashiness and the fact women probably want to eat toquitoes of his abs. The girl I mentioned earlier is Maria; and she has come back as the hottest girl of her village after being raised by...for the life of me...a kick ass nunnery. Apparently reading and manners aren't all they teach there: but fencing and kung fu also. Is this a sisterhood that hunts vampires in it's spare time? XD
But although Joaquin is a major looker and virtuoso with a sword (thanks to a little trinket given to him by Xibalba); Maria seems more impressed with Manalo's cape wielding and singing. The bull fight scene in particular has an awesome rendition of 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly's': Ecstasy of Gold. Check it out: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq9HOH….
So guys it looks like when it comes to pretty mamacitas like Maria; they take talent over looks. (Hell yes. ^^)
But actually there's an even more important moral to this love story; you know the one we hear in ALL love stories. In that, it's not in the uniform or songs you sing that get a woman to love you. It's what's in your pants...sorry...your heart that counts!
(And by the way fellas: when I meant women like what's in your pants I wasn't talking about your penises. I was talking about money.
But oh that Maria. Apparently she's that chica fuerte independiente I told you about earlier; and won't take her position as an object to be married off so easily. Nor will she give in easily to either man she's known since childhood. Except for the fact that she is pressured into marriage to defend her village from this "Villain's not as important in this movie" bad guy: Chakal and his Frito Banditos. Funny how she actually goes along with this; but it's part of her Latin blood I guess to think of family over everything else. Yes; Latin blood truly is strong; la familia is the key word here people. After all; Manalo and Joaquin are practically brothers. Like Tulio and Miguel from Road to El Dorado; only with slightly less homosexual undertones. And as much as I like to think of Maria as Chel; there is no way she's filling in for that gargantuan Mayan ass. XD
Actually all the characters here technically have no ass to speak of. They're represented by puppets. Remember how some people found Wildstyle from 'The Lego Movie' to be kind of hot? Well now visualize the same deal but with wooden marionettes. That's someone's fetish out there I'm sure. The internet exposes us to all sorts of creepy crap.
Speaking of Creepy Crap; Xibalba feels he's about to lose his bet. So he sends his dirty snake (eesh...did I just say that?) to interfere. The snake ends up ending the life of Maria; but Manalo gladly exchanges his life for hers. So after accepting this; he passes out like gringo on Sumbucca. Soon, he wakes up live...(well not really)...and in the flesh...(um...no...again not really.)
He is now in 'The Land of the Dead'; a place that for the life of me seems like a skeleton infested version of 'It's a Small World After All.' (Actually'; how much cooler would that ride be during Halloween replacing the dolls with skeletal or zombie versions of themselves? ) He also meets his ancestors here; all of which were bull fighters before him. (Though I still think bull fighting is more revered in Spain than in Mexico; but who am I to judge? At least they didn't go with cock fighting.) They all have distinct personalities and are a bunch of boneheads: both figuratively and literally.
As you might have guessed; this place is full of vibrant colors. When you're making an animated movie based off 'The Day of the Dead'; of course you want it to look as pretty as possible. And indeed pretty it is. Vibrant in color and pretty lights. But as I go through this review; I am telling you a story that has been told before. Literally; Manalo's journey to the Underworld and finding his way back is that of the story of Orpheus. Oh and using singing to tame a wild beast; same thing too.
Actually; the fact that all three of our characters have pressure exerted onto them from their parents also puts me in mind of Romeo and Juliet. So yes; I've seen love stories like this before and I kind of know where this is heading. I somehow foresee a happy ending in all of this coming. And I bet a lot of you were too. But again; the story isn't what entirely counts here. It's the vibrant cast of characters and the beautiful visuals that drive it along that counts. You know this is kind of like most comics here on DA; the story may not be that original but hey; the pretty pictures are what people like the most.
So I don't mind this is a movie enriched with beautiful visuals in midst of a highly predictable story. What I DO mind is how fast Manalo is being whisked through The Land of the Dead. It's like 'One pretty visual to the next; let's get this story moving faster people. We can only hold the kids' interests for so long.' In fact most kids are gonna ooh and aah over the visuals more than care about the overall plot or watered down jokes. And watered down jokes a plenty there is. I actually though Manalo playing 'Fools rush In' was a joke; but I actually think they were meant to take that as tender and serious.
But back to this story. As much as Manalo is happy to see his family again; he wants to get back to the realm of the living to Maria. See according to the film; 'As long as the dead are never forgotten; they will be with us always.' Interesting but disturbing theory; as I live right outside a cemetery. (No joke people.) I'm not sure I want dead people to see what I do all the time. XD
So Manalo's fast paced journey ultimately ends up with him visiting I believe the 'Land of the Dead's' visual representation of "God": The Candlemaker as voiced by Ice Cube. (You know it could have easily been Cee Lo and I wouldn't be able to tell. XD) And with him is...'The Book of Life.' Oh hey; the title character! Hey bookie...how do you feel having a movie named after you but you're in it for about a few minutes?
Actually; the Book of Life represents the pages of our stories of what we did most of our lives. (Don't believe anything that book writes about me people; it's all slander!! >=-B)
Manalo sees this as a chance to re-write his story and decides to make a bet with the undead douche who put him here: Xibalba.
He must face a bunch of bull skeletons who merge into one giant bull skeleton. But he wins the beast by singing to it. Again like Orpheus. (But ah; Kratos would have easily ended this monstrosity with a few taps of the X button.)
So Xibalba despite being a con artist and dark moody SOB; actually complies and sends Manalo back. Apparently despite the fact they make bets with each other; Le Meurta and Xibalba do indeed love each other. Call me a cynic but I find their relationship more interesting than that of the love triangle that's the central plot to this movie. Maybe it's because I like the fact that the real reason higher powers control our fates is because they're just messing with us and using our souls as a form of gambling. Plus they truly are the best looking characters in this movie and their designs are pure awesomeness.
So Malano is reunited with Maria and bro-amigo Joaquin. What I do like about the final showdown is that the ancestors of Malano join the fight each with their own methods of fighting and unique design. And again; two of his ancestors are two hot looking skeleton girls. Man I just recently watched a Rifftrax take on a bad Robocop knock off named 'R.O.T.O.R.'; and the actual movie had THIS line it. (I swear to god.):
- Cold Iron (Yeah that's HIS name): You fire me and I'll make more noise than two skeletons making love in a tin coffin!
- Mike (riffing on this line.): Which is something I've thought about....A LOT!!!
And you will too after finding out how hot girls can be even without their flesh. XD One of the first movies I know of where certain people will be possessed to draw two skeletons making love. XD
Well literal boners aside; Malano and his comrades/ancestors/village idiotas fend of Chakal and his bandits. Soon Manalo gets his wish and marries Maria while Joaquin maintains his friendship with him and we close out of course...with a lively pop song. Yet that old cliché again.
And that hot tour guide lady; turned out to be Le Muerta; the hot skeleton lady. With or without flesh she's a real looker.
The movie ends with the Candlemaker presenting us the challenge to "Write our own stories." Don't need to remind me twice waxy "God" dude: I do that shit all the time. Otherwise why else would I continue hanging around this DAmn place? XD
So the story is predictable. The story is clichéd. And yes; the movie is choc full of Mexican stereotypes. Everything from the food, to the music, to the occupations, to the accents. And they even had to sneak in one Luchador reference. XD Essentially, this movie has more stereotypes in it than the entire series of Mucha Lucha.
Only thing is; they're colorful Mexican stereotypes. (And I don't mean that in a negative sense.) The visuals in this movie are nothing short of breath taking and gorgeous; and the characters are just as colorful (again not meant to be offensive) and fun. The art designs that went behind them clearly showed the creators had a blast making them. Further more is how different art styles and animation styles incorporated throughout the whole project would no doubt inspired future animators and concept artists out there to pursue their dreams of becoming full fledged artists for higher.
This is where form is a definitive take over substance. I don't care if the story is clichéd or has a predictable outcome; it's a gorgeous movie to take aesthetic inspiration. Highly recommend it for it's beautiful visuals and Latin inspired designs. (It also reminded me I need to get back and play Guacamelee again.
So come for the visuals. And if you like the story too; fine. But if you expect some inspiring images and great artistry from this movie; you will definitely find it here. And on a site like this; I think that's what truly matter.
Adios amigos!! (I also speak French!!)