Friday, November 25, 2011

Rio Is Fun, But Not Overly Substantial.

The Good: Decent voice acting, Great animation, Cute, DVD bonus features
The Bad: Utterly predictable plot and character arcs.
The Basics: Rio is a fun animated film that is diverting, but not superlative in any way but the animation.

My wife frequently accuses me of having an unhealthy attachment to actress Anne Hathaway. Actually, she smiles wickedly and says "You loooooove her!" in an obnoxious voice. My argument was weakened when she found Rio on my library interlibrary loan list. The reason this was an anomaly was that I seldom watch animated movies and even less frequently watch movies that are rated G. I tried to pass off my interest in Rio as a result of the Angry Birds game we first played together - Angry Birds Rio - and my appreciation of Jesse Eisenberg's talents, but if the movie had not had Anne Hathaway providing the lead character's voice, I probably would have just waited until chance put Rio in front of me, as opposed to requesting it from the library.

Rio is superlative in no ways, but is a fun film. It looks good and makes a strong argument against bothering to invest in 3-D, but Rio is utterly predictable in its plot progression and character development. Usually with animated films, there are catch phrases that resonate or moments that pleasantly surprise me. Rio had nothing that was distinctive, though it was not unenjoyable. Instead, Rio was simply fun.

Blu is a blue macaw who is separated from his captors en route to being sold. He grows up domesticated with Linda, who grows up herself to own a bookstore that she runs with Blu. Blu does not fly, but he is very happy with Linda. One day, Tulio arrives and begs Linda to bring Blu to Rio de Janero to mate him with the last female blue macaw in captivity. Against their better judgment, Blu and Linda go down to Rio. There, Blu meets Jewel, who is not as interested in him as she is in escaping from her habitat.

Unfortunately, Blu and Jewel are captured by poachers. Chained together at the ankles, Jewel must put up with Blu's inability to fly and Blu does his best to teach her how to run. Advised by Rafael, the pair works to get to Luiz to try to get their chains cut. Blu works to get back to Linda while Linda and Tulio get closer as well while searching for the birds. Pursued by smugglers and the vicious bird Nigel, Blu and Jewel overcome obstacles and grow closer.

On DVD, Rio looks incredible. More than any other film in recent memory, Rio is animated in such a way as to make a 3-D version of it almost pointless. The film looks three-dimensional already and it looks good. Like a hyperactive game of Angry Birds, Rio is filled with lush colors, fluid movement and a raucous sense of depth. Rio's character design is fun and cool, at the very least.

Unfortunately, outside the style, Rio has very little going for it. The songs are infrequent, so they come up surprisingly abruptly and stand out more than present a fluid storytelling experience. Nigel's song is amusing when he is tormenting Blu and Jewel, but outside that one song, the music is unmemorable.

Sadly, Rio is so formulaic only the youngest children will be surprised by it. The chase narrative has been done ad nauseam and Rio offers no real variations on the theme. Blu and Jewel are thrown together, overcome obstacles and grow closer as a result. But the way the movie does it is almost insulting in its simplicity, especially in regard to Blu, whose big initial character element comes from the fact that he never learned to fly as a baby. Because that is repeated so very much, viewers come to expect that to be defied before the end.

As for the voice acting, Rio is fine, but also not superlative. Anne Hathaway is fine, but Jesse Eisenberg as Blu and Jemaine Clement as Nigel steal the show. They are funny and emote exceptionally well.

On DVD, Rio comes loaded with bonus features. There are several Angry Birds featurettes, which are cute and sell the game very well. There is a single animatic scene that did not make it into the movie. There are a couple of featurettes that are interesting. But ultimately, Rio looks good but is otherwise strikingly average.

For works featuring Anne Hathaway, please check out my reviews of:
Anne Hathaway For Wonder Woman!
One Day
Love And Other Drugs
Family Guy Presents: It's A Trap!
Alice In Wonderland
Valentine's Day
Twelfth Night Soundtrack
Bride Wars
Rachel Getting Married
Get Smart
The Devil Wears Prada
Brokeback Mountain
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Ella Enchanted
Nicholas Nickleby
The Princess Diaries


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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