Love is a tricky thing us humans encounter throughout our lives. Its twists, its turns, its ups and downs... all a vital part of the human condition. It's hard enough under normal circumstances to navigate that thing we call love, but it's even more difficult when you've got the Gods throwing their two cents into the proceedings. A trio of friends are going to learn that the hard way in 20th Century Fox's new animated feature The Book Of Life, and hot off of
Thanks to Empire Online, we not only have a look at the film's trailer, we also have the first poster to gaze our eyes upon. The trailer opens on a museum where a museum curator is introducing a group of children to The Book Of Life, a seemingly enchanted storybook. It is this book that will tell the story of how Xibalba (Ron Perlman) and La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) made a wager on the fates of two mortals (Diego Luna and Channing Tatum) trying to win the hand of their best friend (Zoe Saldana). Of course, what would a wager among the gods be without cheating, world hopping, and a gag about churros?
This trailer is absolutely gorgeous, and if you took the studio tags off of the beginning, you could swear this was a typical Disney movie, not Fox. A Disney movie on the higher end of the spectrum, closer to The Princess And The Frog than Home On The Range. Of course, this film isn't immune to the standard animated film cliches of celebrity stunt casting (Channing Tatum sounds ridiculous in the best way possible) and pop culture references (this is the first animated film I can think of that uses Biz Markie's Just A Friend), but these seem to only further endear the film to the audience. Let's not forget, this is a Guillermo Del Toro production, and if there's anything that man loves to inspire, it's stories that pay homage while subverting their subject matter.
The Book Of Life, in the hands of an inferior production team, would have came off as a silly (and most likely borderline offensive) movie that might have looked decent. But Reel FX Animation Studios, coming off of the extremely silly looking Free Birds, seems to know what they're doing. The resulting visuals are infused with a highly colorful flare that pays tribute to various facets of Mexican culture – most notably, the usage of marionettes as our main characters. Of course, there's still a chance that this film could turn out to be sillier and sloppier than it portrays itself to be. After all, this is the studio that released Walking With Dinosaurs and Rio 2 not too long ago.
I'm willing to bet on the side of this film actually being a sleeper hit come this October, and I do so because of several reasons. First, Guillermo Del Toro is a damned good filmmaker, and he can also be an effective producer. His teaming with fellow Mexican filmmaker Jorge R. Gutierrez only makes me more likely to expect a culturally sensitive product. Secondly, this film is being positioned for a release conveniently close to Halloween, as well as the actual Day of the Dead festival, so there's a slight holiday bump. Third, and most important of all, we've seen more Hispanic centric films in the spotlight of major studios, most evidently in Lionsgate's surprising indie success with last year's Instructions Not Included.
We'll see which side the Gods of Fate are on when The Book Of Life opens on October 17th.