MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
A blue maccaw that has spent most of his life in Minnesota is brought to Rio de Janeiro to help repopulate his species. However, when he is kidnapped by poachers, who plan to sell him to the exotic pet underground, he escapes with the other blue maccaw and embarks on a tropical adventure.
WHAT I LIKED
For the longest time, it seemed that Pixar and DreamWorks had a corner on the adorable, wholesome CGI animated films… and even then DreamWorks had some missteps with “Shark Tale” and the third “Shrek” movie. Everyone seems to discount Fox’s computer animation department, even though they’ve given us some decent flicks like the “Ice Age” films, “Robots” and “Horton Hears a Who.”
This year, “Rio” made everyone sit up and take notice, not just for its critical and box office success, but also for building a film that looked as good as the Pixar and DreamWorks films. In fact, were it not for the Fox logo at the head of the picture (and the Scrat cartoon attached as well), you’d think this came straight out of the Walt Disney Studios, trying to emulate the Latin American PR films of the 50s such as “The Three Caballeros.”
“Rio” is a fun and colorful ride, featuring some neat characters and plenty of action. It also has a safe, wholesome delivery without feeling like a sanitized G-rated film (even though it is). Like many of the great animated films from past decades, this doesn’t rely on the stardom of its voice cast, even though it has stars in it. Rather, the film plays well for the characters’ sake rather than just the presence of a name actor.
But also like a classic Disney film, “Rio” also has some excellent musical numbers. This, of course, makes sense with the film set in such a rich landscape for music. Still, it’s neat to see a film that isn’t exactly a musical but doesn’t shy away from some musical numbers… and none of them seem forced. In fact, the opening sequence as well as the solo from the villainous cockatoo are the highlights of the film.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There isn’t much to grumble at for “Rio,” actually. Sure, some of the plot point and story arcs are pretty cliche, but you’re gonna get that with a kids’ movie. Even with some lack of originality in its message, it’s nice to see a fully fresh film that isn’t based on existing fairy tales or is a sequel to another movie.
My only other problem with this film is the presence of Jesse Eisenberg, who lost steam and interest for me as quick as he gained it. The guy’s a one-note actor and never really nails the empathy needed to voice Blue, the parrot.
The multi-disc Blu-ray set includes a DVD of the film, plus a disc for digital copy. The Blu-ray disc includes the feature, along with a rich assortment of bonus material. There’s deleted scene, music videos, a jukebox feature, Rio postcards, an “Coloring with Blu” app, behind the scenes via BD-Live and access to a secret code to unlock a hidden level in the “Angry Birds Rio” app.
Behind-the-scenes featurettes include “Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time,” “The Making of Hot Wings,” “Boom-Boom Tish-Tish: The Sounds of Rio,” “Carnival Dance-O-Rama” and a slate of behind-the-scenes and production notes from different virtual locations in the “Explore the World with Rio” feature.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Kids and families.