In the mess of trailers before Maleficent this weekend, there was one that quite literally took my breath away. It was not Boxtrolls (which looks good), or Jupiter Rising, but The Book of Life, the new CG animated feature directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez. So full of life, or color, of motion, of raw energy, I sat mesmerized by where animation has taken us. I cannot wait to see this film.
Starring Diego Luna as Manolo and Channing Tatum as Joaquin, the two male leads vie for the heart and the hand of Zoë Saldana as Maria. The Gods of the underworld turn out, and two place a bet on which man Maria will favor. When one of the Gods sees the bet slipping away, he introduces a poisonous snake to turn the odds more in his favor. The snake bites and kills Manolo, and he spends the rest of the film in the Land of the Dead, trying to reach back to the living and his dear Maria.
It sounds and feels a little like a South of the Border remake of Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride. But the color, the vibrancy and the energy on the animation take this film to a different plane. Obviously inspired by their Mexican heritage, Gutierrez and producer Guillermo del Toro use folk art and tales to make this unique looking world… or three worlds, actually. Gutierrez says he strove to make the film to look exactly like the concept art in “The Art of” books, saying: “I saw every single one that comes out and my biggest heartbreak is that I see all this glorious art, and then the movie doesn’t look like that! The mandate of this movie was: Our ‘Art of’ book is going to look exactly like the movie. And every artist poured their heart and soul into that idea.”
Originally developed at DreamWorks, the film moved over to 20th Century and ReelFX in 2012. The film will release to theaters on October 17, 2014.
Here is the trailer. Tell us if you are as excited about this as we are!