The Book of Life makes an intriguing attempt at exploring gender stereotypes, but often ends up reinforcing them. Maria (Saldana) ticks a few painfully clichéd feminist heroine boxes, but mostly she is never more than the object of Manolo (Luna) and Joaquin’s (Tatum) affections.

Luckily this fault is redeemed by the strength and purity of the romantic triangle that drives the plot. It’s refreshing to see a dynamic where the third wheel isn’t some duplicitous villain, but just a good guy who isn’t the right guy.

The animation and design are a jaw-dropping ecstasy of gold, red and green, with not a dull pixel to be found onscreen – although the 3D is pointless.

The humour is average, but there’s an irrepressible energy to every frame. Idiosyncratic musical flourishes occasionally jar but the gorgeous design and masterful animation make this a joy to watch. The most heart-warming love story of the year.




CAST: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate

DIRECTOR: Jorge R. Gutierrez

WRITER: Jorge R. Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale

SYNOPSIS: Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.