The Book of Life, Blu-ray (2015)

by | Feb 8, 2015 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

The Book of Life, Blu-ray (2015)

Producer: Guillermo del Toro
Director: Jorge R. Gutierrez
Voices: Christina Applegate, Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Ron Perlman, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, Ice Cube
Studio: Reel FX/ 20th-Century Fox [1/27/15] (both Blu-ray & DVD discs) (Also avail. in 3D)
Video: 2.39:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English description 5.1, Spanish or French DD 5.1
Dubbed: French, Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: A Closer Look at TBOL, The Adventures of Chuy – animated short, The Music of TBOL, Digital Carpenters, Music Machine, Music Video: “No Matter Where You Are,” Audio commentary track by director, Theatrical trailer, Five galleries, digital HD download
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: *****

This is quite different from the usual Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks animation, using a strong Mexican flavor and amazing wood-looking animated characters to tell a super-festive story that never lets up.  Del Toro singled out this film to produce, and the actual director is nothing but enthusiastic from beginning to end. The universal general story of love and friendship is based on the Mexican holiday “The Day of the Dead,” and the explanation of that special occasion is made clear in the film.

The so-called dead have never been more alive, and del Toro and Guitierrez arranged for the world of the dead to be the most lively and colorful of all, as well as the underworld of the forgotten to be dark and creepy, using some of the del Toro’s great imagination in the process. The music is almost continuous, with a mix of Mexican favorites, even Elvis, Mumford & Sons, Rod Stewart, and lots of other musical influences. The voices of the two gods who pull the strings are from Kate del Castillo and del Toro’s favorite actor, Ron Perlman. Ice Cube is terrific as The Candleman. It moves so fast that one wants to see it again to get all the references. Even Placido Domingo was involved in some way. I didn’t know this was also available in 3D or I would have wanted to see it that way.

The little separate cartoon on Maria’s pig Chuy (who thinks he’s a goat) is a kick. Your kids will probably love this feature – it’s certainly not your usual animated fairytale.

—John Sunier

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