The Book of Life 3D review

This visually stunning animated film carves its own niche through a celebration of Mexican folklore

Thanks to the likes of How to Train Your Dragon 2, Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls and The LEGO Movie, 2014 will be remembered as a bumper year for animated films. And while it didn't enjoy the same kind of box office success, The Book of Life is just as deserving of praise as those others.

Produced by fan-favourite Guillermo del Toro and inspired by the Mexican 'Day of the Dead', The Book of Life is not dissimilar in its gleefully ghoulish spirit to The Nightmare Before Christmas. But aesthetically it couldn't be further apart, telling its love story through the vibrantly coloured prism of Mexican folklore. A true animated original.

Picture: With its baroque marionette-style characters and a vibrant aesthetic inspired by Latino culture and folk-art, The Book of Life looks like no other 'toon we've seen – and Fox's Blu-ray shows it off brilliantly.

Whether you opt for the set's 3D or 2D 1080p presentation (each gets its own disc), you're in for a flawless experience, with both 2.39:1-framed encodes serving up a riot of garish colours and intricately rendered textures. The 'blocky' nature of the characters plays perfectly into the hands of the 3D encode, which never falters when it comes to creating subtle but convincing volumetric effects.

Nor is the stereoscopic encode short of truly eye-popping 3D showcases, as a look at Manolo's arrival in the 'Land of the Remembered' and the subsequent parade (Chapter 15), proves.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Both video presentations are accompanied by an identical DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack that's a great match for the film's inventive visual style.

Not only does the multichannel track excel at immersing you in the film's locations through its wrap-around sound effects, it's depth and range also comes in handy with the musical interludes that litter the film. Dialogue is also rich and cleanly rendered – a good thing, too, given how thick some of the characters' accents are.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: All of the extras are on the set's 2D platter. The Adventures of Chuy (three minutes) is a fun animated short featuring the film's adorable piglet. This is followed by a trio of behind-the-scenes featurettes: Closer Look at The Book of Life (10 minutes) provides an overview of the film's genesis and production; The Music of Life (nine minutes) focuses on the songs – new and original – featured in the film; and Digital Carpenters: Behind the Book of Life at Reel FX (11 minutes) looks at the film's unique imagery and the animation process.

Also well worth your time is the chat track by director Jorge R. Gutierrez and collection of five art galleries.

Rounding things out are the trailer, the No Matter Where You Are by Us the Duo music video (three minutes), and a virtual jukebox of 16 songs from the film.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: This animated gem will bring a whole new level of 2D and 3D artistry to your cinema room

The Book of Life 3D, Twentieth Century Fox, Region A/B BD, £28 Approx