Kieran's Rating: 7.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.7/10
(2 reviews total)
The Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro serves as the setting for two films being released this April: one being a full on action film, Fast and Furious 5
, the other being a family animated adventure. Rio
is that film and shows that the 20th Century Fox subsidiary Blue Sky Studios is growing from strength to strength.
Blu the Spix’s Macaw’s (Jesse Eisenberg) early life is tragic; he fled from his nest too early and was kidnapped by poachers. Luckily he was adopted by a loving owner, Linda (Leslie Mann) as a little girl. 15 years later, Linda owns a bookstore in the snowy landscape of Minnesota and Blu has become a very nerdy bird. A Brazilian ornithologist, Túlio (Rodrigo Santoro), finds Linda and tells her that Blu is the last male of his species. Linda agrees to take Blu to Rio de Janeiro so the bird can breed. But Blu does not hit it off with one of the last females of his species, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), and matters get worse when poachers take the birds and chain them together, especially because Blu can't fly. When they escape, Blu and Jewel try and reunite with Linda whilst avoiding being captured by the poachers and their insane cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement).
is a pure formula picture with many familiar elements such as when Blu's taken from the wild as a chick, the animosity between Blu and Jewel that has an obvious trajectory, the story of the evil Nigel having a tragic past and being rejected, etc., but formula does not have to be bad and when it's done right it can easily lead to an enjoyable film for all the family.
Director Carlos Saldanda has made a fast-paced adventure with a great amount of vivid color. There is a more old-fashioned feel to it, like Disney films and their copycats in the '90s. Pop-culture references are toned down and there are a few musical numbers which is rare in CGI animated features. The animation itself has a similar look to Pixar’s particular the human characters, though Túlio looks very similar to the main character in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The animation of the parrots climbing is particularly well done and true to life for anyone who has ever owned one.
Much of the humor of the film is kid-friendly slapstick as is expected from this type of film and it is done very well; there is enough for parents and adults to keep them entertained. My personal favorites were the double act of Kipo (Robin Thicke) and Marcel (Carlos Ponce), the dumb henchmen for the poacher who are outsmarted by a cockatoo. They have some of the best lines in the film. But the two characters Pedro the Red-crested Cardinal (will.i.am) and Nico the yellow canary (Jamie Fox) were annoying and pretty stereotypical.
Eisenberg gives a typical nerdy performance as his character is book-smart, but not adventurous at all, preferring to be safe with his owner. Hathaway's Jewel is a feisty, strong female character who wants to explore and doesn't trust humans. Both learn from each other: for Blu that there is a wider world and for Jewel not all humans are bad. Clement was funny as he parodies British actors playing psychopathic villains in action films. From an admittedly nerdy standpoint, I do question why the ornithologists did not question why they had an injured cockatoo considering the species is native to Australia and New Guinea — obviously a minor issue. There's a lot of love in Rio, as in addition to the bird loer there is also some nerd love involving Linda and Túlio becoming closer to each other.
Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Written by Don Rhymer
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Simon thought: "The latest offering from Fox’s Blue Sky animation feels like an animated film of old (and no I do not mean that as a compliment). Rio is a full relapse with a slapstick laden, bland offering with forgettable and distracting musical numbers and interchangeable supporting characters. The central protagonist of Blu the McCaw (voiced by a now-too-recognizable Jesse Eisenberg) has human characteristics when interacting with his owner, opening his cage at a whim and exchanging complex high-fives with his owner. Rio suffers from this identity crisis at more than one point neither having these animals co-existing with man in a “human way” nor being simple animals who can only communicate just with one another. Two saving graces allow Rio not to drop like a stone: the vibrant animation and an equally colourful character voiced by Jamie Clement as the sinister main villain. Alas, even with these two strong backbones, this second-tier flick has no right to fly in the same circles of recent animated fare." Rating: 6/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.7/10