Rio is an extraordinary story about overcoming fears and making true friends, regardless of what they look like or how they fit in. All this, set in amazing Rio de Janeiro, and you have a hit.
The colors are vibrant, the characters are funny, and the story is sweet. It’s an homage to director Carlos Saldanha’s home country and the colorful images create a fun and beautiful animated film.
Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) is a rare macaw that is almost instinct. He has lived all his life in Minnesota with his doting owner and best friend, Linda. When a scientists asks the two to come to Rio to mate with another blue macaw, Linda agrees and brings Blu to Rio to help save his species. Blu quickly meets Jewel (Anne Hathaway), who is a feisty and independent bird longing to escape her life in captivity.
The two go on an amazing, and sometimes scary, adventure when they are stolen by a bird smuggler and his cockatoo, Nigel (Jermaine Clement). They must band together to escape and get back to where they belong, but first, they must undo the chains that bind them together! Along the way, the two meet Rafael (George Lopez) who helps them find a way to break the cuffs and separate from each other.
The movie bursts with so much color, you can’t help but remain mesmerized by the unbelievable images of the birds and the atmosphere created in Rio. 20th Century Fox’s animation team does an incredible job recreating the Brazilian city and it brings this movie to a whole new level.
The music is equally entertaining and fascinating. Unlike many animated films, this movie is also a musical and musicians Will.I.Am and Jamie Foxx do a great job performing many of the songs. The two also lend their voices to two birds, Nico and Pedro, and they create a funny pair that adds comic relief to the film.
The voices in general are all done well. Jesse Eisenberg does a great job as Blu and creates a lovable naivete to his character. Anne Hathaway’s Jewel compliments Eisenberg and the two make a great pair with their banter. Hathaway comes across as worldly and confident, whereas Eisenberg creates just the right amount of nerdy confusion to make his domesticated Blu convincing. The two are joined by a strong supporting cast of Tracy Morgan as bulldog, George Lopez as a toucan, Leslie Mann as Linda, and Jermaine Clement as Nigel.
Although the 3D effects are cool, they didn’t really do anything to augment the film. Filmmakers seem to want to use the 3D technology, sometimes for no reason other than to test it out. Rio has so many vibrant colors and music, it doesn’t need the 3D stunts as well. Once the technology becomes more mainstream and filmmakers figure out how to maximize it’s use, it might be more enjoyable and make more sense.
The 3D in Rio isn’t particularly amazing anyway – nothing really jumped out of the screen and it is simply overkill for this otherwise great film.
Overall, it’s nice to see such amazingly positive representation of Brazil and an amazing movie that embraces all of Rio’s rich culture. The scenes of Carnivale are just breathtaking and the movie is fun for the whole family from start to finish.