subscribe: Posts | Comments

Rio 2 – Movie Review

Comments Off on Rio 2 – Movie Review

Rio 2 – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

[youtube id=”JtP7zka5UI8″ width=”620″ height=”360″]

With each new film, Blue Sky Studios continues to establish itself as one of the best animation studios in the medium’s history, compiling an amazing artistic quality with wonderful characters and stories. Following up one of their best films, Rio 2 is filled with the same vibrant energy and love for Brazilian culture that director Carlos Saldanha brought to its predecessor. When the 20th Century Fox fanfare immediately begins with a samba-influenced rhythm, it’s immediately a delight to see the cast of the first film again and it’s evident just how much of a passion project this is for Saldanha. There is not a single scene in Rio 2 that doesn’t bring smiles and it serves as the next best thing for those unable to visit the jungles of the Amazon.

One of the best qualities of Rio was how it transported the audience to the streets of Rio de Janeiro and filled them with such an energy and admiration for the locales. There’s certainly more of that, starting with a wonderful opening sequence showing the New Year’s celebration on the beaches of the Copacabana, complete with the appropriate white attire. By transporting the birds to the Amazon rainforest, this sequel doesn’t fall into the trap of just repeating the first movie and showing the same locations. In a beautifully constructed montage, Carlos Saldanha even brings the characters over Salvador and Brasilia. As great as the classic Jose Carioca cartoons are, it’s wonderful to see a Brazilian perspective on an animated depiction of the country.

However, while Rio 2 is certainly a postcard to the nation, it does touch on some real world issues that are unfortunately plaguing parts of it. The deforestation currently happening in the Amazon is very well integrated into the film’s plot and the film doesn’t beat you over the head with its message. It’s simply showcasing something that is sadly affecting the birds and other jungle species and is a natural element of the story, much like the bird smuggling that drove Rio’s plot. It also allows for further developing of Jewel’s character and her views from the first film. Her father’s distrust of Blu is not handled in the clichéd “meet the parents” format, but rather an understandable avenue considering his history with the human species. Both Rio and Rio 2 work as great companion pieces, tying together perfectly and nicely evolving the characters.

Of the new characters, the stand-out is Gabi the little poisonous frog that has a very funny relationship with Nigel the evil cockatoo. Every time she appears on screen, she actually manages to steal the spotlight from her Shakespeare-quoting cohort and the animators do an amazing job of moving her body and facial expressions in every possible way. Kristen Chenoweth’s voice work as Gabi is a delight, injecting so much glee and excitement into the part and even makes her rather sympathetic as she pines for an uninterested bird. The character has such a well-developed and humourous story-arc, that a spin-off movie with her in the lead role would be a fantastic sight. Singer Bruno Mars has surprisingly strong comedic timing as an old friend of Jewel’s and the script thankfully takes him in unexpected directions by not resorting to the tired “former flame” trope.

Following the samba-influenced Carnival beats of the previous film, executive music producer Sergio Mendes expands to other song styles as the sequel brings more musical numbers to the table, featuring a wide variety of songwriters and performers. The opening number “What is Love” is a catchy tune nicely sung by Janelle Monae and the cast, launching the sequel on a high note not unlike the amazing “Real in Rio” set piece that introduced its predecessor. “Beautiful Creatures” displays some stunningly coloured Busby Berkeley-like choreography with all manner of blue macaw filling the screen. Kristen Chenoweth’s Broadway pipes are appropriately highlighted in a hilarious and touching love song where this venomous amphibian laments her inability to touch the bird she adores. Meanwhile, Jemaine Clement brings along his “Flight of the Concords” background for a show-stopping rendition of “I Will Survive” that even manages to top his excellent “Pretty Bird” song from Rio. Throw in John Powell’s amazing score and orchestrations and the percussion work of Carlinhos Brown and this is a soundtrack that compares very favourably with the first film’s.

Carlos Saldanha is certainly one of the auteurs of feature animation and both Rio pictures are filled with passion in every frame for both the artform and his native Brazil. There is an infectious energy in Rio 2 that continues to last as the credits play and even after leaving the screening. The characters of Rio are likeable and yet are also fully-developed with their own unique story arcs, whether it’s Blu trying to fit into the jungle landscape or Pedro and Nico’s hilarious attempt at putting together a Carnival Show. Nothing in Rio 2 feels forced and it doesn’t suffer from any sequel side effects. While Ice Age is Blue Sky’s current dominant franchise, Rio is definitely deserving of having even more sequels as this is a cast of characters and a locale that can lend themselves to more adventures.

Review By: Stefan Ellison


Page 442 of 524« First...102030...440441442443444...450460470...Last »