THE BOOK OF LIFE Comic-Con Panel Recap Featuring Guillermo Del Toro, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Biz Markie and More

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Anything Guillermo Del Toro gets involved in is worth attention.  He can only direct so many movies, but he’s been able to make an even bigger impact on cinema by also working as a producer.  During 20th Century Fox Comic-Con presentation today in Hall H, Del Toro was present for The Book of Life, an animated film he’s producing with Jorge Guiterrez directing.  The unique story embraces its Mexican style and influence as it tells a love story that spans the worlds of the living and the dead.

Hit the jump for The Book of Life Comic-Con panel recap.

the-book-of-life-posterGuiterrez and Del Toro took the stage along with voice actors Christina Applegate (Mary Beth), Ron Perlman (Xibalba), and Channing Tatum (Joaquin).

Panel Highlights

  • Gutierrez says the initial inspiration for the movie was words from his grandfather: “Never let the truth get in the way of telling a good story.”  This movie is a recipe of all the stories he heard from his family growing up.
  • Del Toro says he met with Guiterrez seven years ago, and the director had all the art and the pitch.  They also had great chemistry, says Del Toro.  He says he steps in to produce when he feels films need him in order to get the movie to the finish line as perfectly persevered as possible.
  • Guiterrez decided to use contemporary music because it’s the music he loved frowing up.
  • In one of the most random moments of any panel I’ve ever seen, Biz Markie came out on stage and starts signing “Just a Friend” because it’s a song used in the movie.
  • After Markie left the stafe, Ron Perlman was asked to describe his character, Xibalba: “He’s a sweetheart. He likes snakes.  He’s been around for a “thousand years, larger than life, used to wheeling-and-dealing,” and he was “a lot of fun to play.”
  • Tatum unintentionally put a “twist” on the role because “I obviously have Mexican ancestors,” he joked.

Audience Q&A

  • Del Toro reiterates that while it’s important to be drawn to things he can protect, but it’s also important to feel a kinship like he does with Guiterrez.  Additionally, the visuals and the fairy tale story made him feel “privileged” to be part of the project.  He also notes that these kinds of movies help show audiences another side of your personality.
  • Del Toro also explains to an audience member that as a producer, he wasn’t the visionary behind The Book of Life.  He redirected the question to Guiterrez, and he explained how he put everything he loved—video games, opera, family—and put it into one movie because he’s worried he might not get another one.
  • the-book-of-life-image-2He got married on the Day of the Dead because he wanted his friend who passed away to be his Best Man, “and I knew he would show up.”  And the look of the movie is rooted in the vibrant iconography, but the most important thing that is remaining true to the spirit of the holiday, which is about remembering loved ones but in a joyous way rather than grieving.
  • Tatum says he was attracted to the part because of the amount of talent he would be working with, but Del Toro adds that Tatum was perfect because he could add a level of vulnerability to the macho role.

Footage

We were showed the trailer quickly outlining the plot, but the overall tone is a bit scattershot.  Visually, it’s stunning.  You’ve never seen an animated movie that looks like this.  It’s an exciting blend of cultural influences with unusual, striking designs from the settings to the characters.  If I had to describe the look of the movie in one word, it’s “vibrant”.  But in terms of the story and the characters, I’m still a little uncertain.  While I can understand why Guiterrez might want his lovelorn protagonist sing a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”, the execution seems dodgy.  Hopefully, it will work better in the overall context of the movie.




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