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Book of Life looks very pretty (though eerily like the video game Guacamelee! at times, I wonder what the video game makers thought when the trailer came out) but lacks in the storytelling department, feeling rather simplistic at times. A reviewer called it “lifeless” and it strikes me as inferior to some of the high-quality animated movies of recent years coming out of other studios. The script could have used more work. This makes me feel a bit bad, like I’m some sort of traitor, but visiting Rotten Tomatoes showed me I’m not the only one who thought this.
I saw it with my children and the youngest one was entertained, though, so it’s not a bad idea if you like eye candy.
As an aside, you should not take certain (okay, a lot of) aspects of the mythology on display as accurate. For example, Xibalba is supposed to be a ruler of a realm of the dead in this movie, though Xibalba is a Mayan term for the underworld, not a person and the Day of the Dead derives from Nahua/Aztec mythology, not Mayan. Though no one expects complete accuracy from movies, it’s an FYI.
Related topic: today I went to buy papel picado for my Day of the Dead altar and the lady at the store told me the festivity is becoming very popular with the Anglos. I can believe that as costumes inspired by the holiday are showcased at the Halloween store near my home. On the one hand that’s nice, on the other it’s the scary feeling one more aspect of your culture is going to commercialized like a $2 burrito at a fast food chain.
Something you didn’t ask and I’m telling you anyway: one of my future novel projects will be something called Lords of Xibalba.
Random aside: the cover of my collection This Strange Way of Dying is inspired by Day of the Dead art. And the short story after which the collection is named is about Day of the Dead stuff (here it is online).
Other random aside: here’s some artwork by Paco Rico Torres I commissioned a long time back. This is for a novel that never came to be of mine in which a young woman falls in love with a ghost.
Controversy: Macario, a Mexican film that deals with death as a fantastic element, caused a stir when it was released in the 60s. Lots of people in Mexico thought it pandered to foreign viewers. Folks are still writing essays about it.
That’s it. Enjoy this slice of death.