Rio (DVD)

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Rio (DVD)

A misfit macaw named Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) heads to Rio de Janeiro, embarks on a magnificent journey, and makes some loyal new friends in thi...

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Review of "Rio (DVD)"

published 19/05/2011 | Puggers
Member since : 29/03/2005
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Super
Pro Wonderful visuals, excellent voicing.
Cons Pedestrian storytelling.
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"Rio's Grand"

Outside of Pixar, the quality of recent animated offerings have varied wildly, from the pits of Monsters vs Aliens and Shrek jumping the shark not once, but twice, to a host of, happily, much better efforts. Rio falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of quality, with a story that calls on all the tropes and predictabilities of light-family-adventure but has enough visual flair and a sufficiently impressive, well-chosen voice cast to nudge it towards the jollier end of the scale.

The creation of Blue Sky Studios, the people behind the excellent (if slightly over-franchised ...) Ice Age, Rio spins a pretty unambitious tale, but has the good sense to set it in a location that makes for plenty of beautifully-rendered visuals and lends itself well to a soundtrack that jumps and bounces along with a vigour that might be a little cliched, but sets the film apart from other animations, which have rather left the set-piece songs and whatnot behind. The film unfolds, after all, in Rio de Janeiro, and if the Samba rhythms that proprel the story merrily along are predictable, they're also rather enjoyable.

Blu, a macaw who was taken from his jungle home in the type of sad little prelude that's become almost obligatory since Up, is a comfortable, over-domesticated animal who lives contentedly with his adopted owner Linda in the United States. He lives in her bookshop, consumes substantial quantities of hot chocolate and has never needed to learn to fly. Such an existence makes for little drama, however, and when a Brazilian scientist turns up, delighted to find such a rare specimen as Blu, the film wastes little time getting into gear.

Rio is sharply, dazzlingly brought to life (even if this is the sweetly-polished version, in which the favelas (slums) look like up-and-coming neighbourhoods), and the fusion of colourful vistas and a jumping soundtrack is enormously, immediately impressive. In Rio, Blu is introduced (forcibly) to Jewel, apparently the only other known member of their species. In predictable fashion, sassy, street-smart Jewel and mollycoddled Blu clash initially, end up stuck together and lost ... throw in a few petty criminals, their badass parrot sidekick, a cast of quirky, music-and-party-loving animals and that thorny non-flying problem, and you've got a procession to the finale that's low on surprises but nonetheless plenty charming and engaging.

Voice-casts aren't everything in animations (see Shark Tale for an example of a stellar cast failing to keep a turgid tale afloat), but Rio's is both impressive and well-suited to its characters. Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway give zippy life to the parrot protagonists, while Jermaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) is so well-suited to the role of villainous henchbird Nigel it's a wonder he hasn't voiced this type of character before. Will I-Am and Jamie Foxx are for their parts lively and largely pretty entertaining as Rio locals Pedro and Nico (and only sporadically annoying).

It's the visuals that really sparkle here though. This is true on the large-scale, where Rio, if a little unrealistically glossy (although this is a kids' film, not City of God) looks simply stunning, everything leaping off the screen in verdant tones (at least in 2D ... I imagine everything looks typically blue and muted in 3D, like you're watching it through your jumper, ala old fuzzed-out movies). In terms of individual scenes, too, there's some wonderful work that's gone into bringing the story alive - a tram ride through the city most memorably realised. We've become accustomed to the wonders of modern animation, but Rio is genuinely striking, and although Blue Sky's human characters look a little too like the over-caricatured peoples of Dreamworks, their rendering of landscapes, their animal sprites and above all, their eye for an impressive scene shine through.

Make no mistake, the story is wholly pedestrian, and signposts every turn of its plot clearly enough that your average five year-old will be able to tell you what's going to happen after ten minutes. Again though, this isn't a problem, because it isn't a film that relies on intricate or unconventional storytelling. You know who's going to do what, where and most of the time when - but it's no less enjoyable to watch it happen. Following on from Ice Age, this is another entertaining, well-characterised creature feature ... but sequels are probably unnecessary this time.

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Comments on this review

  • misspurple7 published 19/05/2011
    I enjoyed this too
  • swindoniansteve published 19/05/2011
    Sounds pretty good, great review :0)
  • Zurich11 published 19/05/2011
    Great review x
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Product Information : Rio (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

A misfit macaw named Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) heads to Rio de Janeiro, embarks on a magnificent journey, and makes some loyal new friends in this animated adventure for the entire family. Domesticated from the time he was just a hatchling, Blu traded a life in the clouds for a contented existence in Moose Lake with his doting owner, Linda (Leslie Mann). They live under the impression that Blu is the last of his kind, but upon receiving word that a female macaw named Jewel (Anne Hathaway) has been discovered in Rio de Janeiro, Linda and Blu set their sights on South America on a mission to replenish the species. Shortly after their arrival in the Brazilian capitol, however, the two rare birds fall victim to a gang of greedy animal smugglers intent on making a mint by selling Blu and Jewel to the highest bidder. But the headstrong Jewel isn't about to be locked in a cage and put on display, so when the opportunity arises she stages a daring escape with the help of some wisecracking local birds, and takes her new friend Blu along for the ride. With the bumbling birdnappers fast closing in, Blu realises that his only hope for making a clean getaway and reuniting with Linda is to finally summon the courage he needs to take flight. Rio also features the voices of Tracy Morgan, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, and will.i.am.

Release Details

DVD Region: DVD

Studio(s): CINRAM LOGISTICS; 20TH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT; CINRAM LOGISTICS

Screenwriter: Carlos Saldanha

Voice: Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann, Carlos Saldanha, Rodrigo Santoro, will.i.am, Kelly Keaton, Jane Lynch

Producer: Bruce Anderson

Languages

Main Language: English

Technical Information

Special Features: Taio Cruz - Telling The World music video, Deleted scene - Fruit Stand

Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo, 2.0 Surround

Professional Reviews

Review: As kids' movies go, RIO brings a lot to the party (New York Times, 2011-08-26)<br><br>Bursting with color and rippling with samba rhythms, Rio makes you wonder why animated films haven't spent more time in Brazil. (St. Petersburg Times, 2011-08-26)<br><br>Bursting with color and rippling with samba rhythms, Rio makes you wonder why animated films haven't spent more time in Brazil. (St. Ptersburg Times, 2011-08-26)<br><br>For its stunning iridescent look and infectious music, Rio is a refreshing adventure worth taking. (USA Today, 2011-08-26)<br><br>

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Listed on Ciao since: 28/01/2011