Where do I even begin…?
Imagine a really old Disney movie. Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc. Heck, even throw Fantasia in there. Now imagine a movie like that with Max Fleischer, Chuck Jones or Genndy Tartakovsky in the director’s chair. That’s the simplest way to describe this movie. Even I have to admit that on paper, this sounds like a terrible idea. But onscreen? It’s the most fun you can have at the movies right now.
Story: 4.5/5. I seem to be one of that rare breed which doesn’t mind a formulaic story that’s told well. And although this type of plot and the way it’s told won’t charm everyone, I loved it. Like I said, it kept reminding me of a classic Disney movie. Stuff happens because it’s romantic or funny or cool, and everyone gets at least one moment to be hammy. This is an old-fashioned fairy tale through and through, and it works because it’s proud of that fact. The only reason I didn’t rate it 5 out of 5 is because it does move a little fast. The songs are pretty much the only time it stops to catch its breath, and I would have liked a few moments to go on longer. However, it feels less like you’re being hurried through the film and more like you’re on a roller coaster. It’s exhilarating rather than confusing, and it keep you going with its own energy.
Characters: 5/5. I WANT A MANOLO. Not even as a boyfriend, just to hang around with. This guy is just the most adorable thing. One minute he’s being suave, then he’s being sweet and tender, then he’s channeling a kicked puppy, then he’s channeling Emmet from The Lego Movie. It’s glorious. Maria’s a great character as well. Even with her limited role and screentime, she’s not just a satellite of the men around her. She has her own plans and wishes and emotions which go beyond that of the stereotypical strong female character. Joaquin is wonderfully funny, due in no small part to Channing Tatum’s performance. The voice work is top notch all around, but I think he really did elevate the character to something more than what he could have been. It’s a perfect example of how to take the “jerkass romantic rival” archetype and make it refreshingly likeable and real. Then there’s Xibalba and La Muerte, Oh wow, Xibalba and La Muerte. These two are amazing apart and even more amazing together. You just have to see it to understand it. The Candle Maker didn’t bother me, but I can see why some people wouldn’t like him. He’s a little out there, even by the wacky standards of the universe. Speaking of wacky, I loved all of Manolo’s ancestors. I’m not sure if I can pick a favorite. The bandits are simple but suitably intimidating, easily capturing the inhuman feel that Jorge was going for. I ended up liking Carlos a lot. He remains sympathetic throughout, and you can understand why he acts the way he does. That’s more than I can say for General Posada. The moments when he’s not an unlikeable dick can be counted on one hand with several fingers left over. But I think that was partially intentional. At least, I hope it was.
Music: 5/5. I’ve seen the music for this compared to what Shrek did with the music it used, but I don’t think that’s quite an apt comparison. The reworked songs fit nicely into the world of the film. The original songs are both a joy by themselves and when paired with the visuals, especially “I Love You Too Much.” It’s a gorgeous scene and one of the film’s emotional highlights. There’s even a few clever song choices in the background, which you’ll need a sharp ear to catch.
Animation: 10/5. There were no words in the theater. Only happy noises. I’m not joking when I say that this is, by far, the most beautiful animated film in years. Movies like this are what animation was made for. The details on everything are just unbelievable. I just wanted to explore all of these worlds and never have to stop. And that’s just how they look. I haven’t even gotten to how they move! The physical actions of the characters contribute loads to the story. For example, La Muerte and Xibalba are always zipping around and practically dancing circles around each other in their first few scenes together. Not only is it a wonder to behold, but it shows you the nature of their relationship in a delightfully subtle way. If you liked the animation in Hotel Transylvania, you’ll like the animation in this. The sensibilities of 2D have been painstakingly transferred to the 3D environment. When paired with the visuals themselves, it creates a wild and unique treat that you won’t be able to forget. I didn’t see the film in 3D, so I can’t comment on that aspect. However, I plan to see it again with glasses in tow as soon as I can.
Final Thoughts: Go see it, now. There’s something here for everyone, and even if you don’t like every aspect of the film, chances are you’ll find that one which makes it worth the price of admission.
WATVCH THIS MOVBIE AAHAHAHAHAHAHAH