Miguel is musical, but music is banned in his household. His musician great-grandfather abandoned his great-grandmother and her daughter, Miguel’s grandmother, and the wound still hurts. On the Mexican Day Of The Dead festival, Miguel finds himself in the Land Of The Dead. He learns that the dead disappear when no-one living remembers them. He also discovers that he must solve his problems and return to the land of the living before dawn or else he will be stuck with the dead.
Moana had a strong Polynesian setting: Coco does the same for Mexico. Miguel lives in a small Mexican town, but much of the film takes place in the highly stylised Land Of The Dead. This is a bright, colourful city which disobeys the laws of physics and is an exciting place to be.
The inhabitants are cheerful skeletons who seem to be more full of life than their living counterparts. And they do love their music! The film is filled with Mexican-flavoured melody. There is another strong score from Michael Giacchino and songs by the writers of the Frozen songs.
The story works well. It concentrates on the importance of family, but there is quite a lot of plot and some great characters, especially the dead ones. Sometimes you can see why a story element is there, in order to push the plot in a particular direction. But the film powers forward so positively that this doesn’t matter.
The film is truly dazzling to look at. Visual imagination fills the screen and the movie will reward re-watching in order to appreciate so much eye-catching detail. The standard of animation is everything we expect from Pixar, but the visual design is amazing.
This is a very original movie, a feast for the eyes and ears, and full of heart. After a period of stale sequels, this a step back up for Pixar to the levels of earlier triumphs. I loved everything about this film.