I saw this film on a whim, more or less, after reading the review over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books. It’s much better than your average kids movie–not that I go to all that many, but I judge them quite harshly based on the trailers I see–and has several things in its favor:
- The animation is gorgeous. In an interview I read somewhere, it was said by one of the producers that they wanted this movie to look like other movies concept art coffee table books. And it does. It’s colorful and vibrant and alive and just unlike anything else I’ve seen. There is always something to look at, and I could watch this another two or three times and catch details I previously missed.
- The vast majority of the cast is non-white, and that is so refreshing. For that fact alone, I hope this movie makes a bazillion dollars and multiple sequels. Take note Hollywood! It’s possible to make movies without white people! You should really try it more often!
- Related, there is so much cultural awesomeness packed into this movie, from the physical aspects of each character, to the designs of the town, to the overwhelming visual complexity that is The Land of the Remembered, and more. I know there are jokes and cultural nudge-nudge-wink-winks I am missing, and that’s perfectly ok! I don’t need to be in on every last nuance! I like that it’s a setting, complete with its own fantastical underworld aspect, that I don’t already know backwards and forwards and am bored by. MORE PLEASE.
- And maybe my most favorite thing of all: the way it dealt with death. Given that it’s a story very much framed by Day of the Dead celebrations, death is obviously important to the characters and a normal part of their lives. Such a healthy attitude, and something I think most viewers of the film could probably stand to work on themselves.
That being said, there are also some downers:
- The love triangle is lame. Super lame. It’s obvious from the moment it is introduced who the hero is and who will therefore get the girl. So much potential wasted. Sigh. (I do like Manolo, he’s a very nice boy, but.)
- I wanted to see more of Maria’s point of view, and Joaquin’s. And all those awesome relatives that are introduced in the Land of the Remembered! So much potential wasted. Sigh.
- But I heard a rumor on the internet that this is conceived as the first in a trilogy. And we all know that internet rumors are never wrong. So maybe the next two movies will focus on the other two main characters? Please?
My final verdict is recommended, with reservations. But if you have children who need to see a movie, pick this. It’s better than 95% of the other options out there. And the music is good too.
Source: saw in theater