Published on January 19th, 2018 | by voxx0
Out: January 19
Length: 109 minutes
Director: Lee Unkrich
Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau
Plot: Aspiring musician Miguel (Gonzalez), confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to work out the mystery.
Director Pete Docter’s Oscar winning ‘Inside Out’ wasn’t just a film about four colourful characters with very different emotions; it was also one of the best looking animated features in recent years, with a heart-wrenching message at the end. It was one of those films that firmly sits among the Pixar greats with ‘Toy Story’, ‘Up’ and ‘WALL-E’ – and to be fair, it deserves to be up there.
Pixar’s latest, ‘Coco’, happily joins that list from a creativity point of view. The film takes place in Mexico, with a broad focus on the country’s art, music, history and the customs, including the annual Day of the Dead festival. We open with 12-year-old Miguel (Gonzalez), an aspiring musician who dreams of being famous like his idol, Ernesto De La Cruz (Bratt). However, his family’s ancestral ban stops him from pursuing the dream. With his persistence and guitar in hand he’s transported to the Land of the Dead, a musical underground town that’s filled with high-rises in beautifully lit streets, skeletons and spirit animals, and thanks to the bright colour palette and stunning animation it all looks dazzling.
Typically, like other Pixar top-formers, it doesn’t come without their storytelling grandeur. Like with ‘Up’ and ‘WALL-E’ it comes with love, and like with ‘Inside Out’ it hits all the points of emotion – this one is profound in cleanly cut messages; family, love, life and death. However, the toughest truth that the film comes with is the true power of forgetting, and director Lee Unkrich’s (Toy Story 3) approach to each message will leave a soulful tear running down your cheek – and let’s be honest, we wouldn’t blame you for crying.
You have to credit Pixar for taking a beautiful look at another culture, yet full praise goes to the entirely Mexican-American voice cast, from Gael García Bernal, who plays Miguel’s crafty skeletal guide, via Bratt as his idol and Alanna Ubach as his vicious Mamá Imelda, to name just a few. Still, the best performance has to go to Gonzalez as Miguel. He shows pure confidence even with the film’s blissful musical numbers, and it’s here when ‘Coco’ shows off its highest note. The music is fun, it’s cheerful and giddy, and like Disney’s other musical gems the notes often hit right at home.
Their 19th film is indeed a flourishing return to form for Pixar, but it’s still not perfect as the story often covers similar ground to 2014′s ‘The Book of Life’, and sadly falls out of tune with that sudden drop. Still, with that said, ‘Coco’ is a beautiful, colourful and emotional look into Mexico’s artful culture, and one that will leave a warm feeling deep in your heart and have you dancing even after the credits stop.
VERDICT: The latest offering from Pixar is a true artscape of colourful animation and raw emotional storytelling. If the afterlife is this exciting then death truthfully shouldn’t be anything to fear.
- By Corey Denford