Blu, Jewel and their three kids living the perfect domesticated life in the magical city that is Rio de Janeiro. When Jewel decides the kids need to learn to live like real birds, she insists the family venture into the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in with his new neighbors, he worries he may lose Jewel and the kids to the call of the wild.
The 'Rio' franchise is all about digital eye candy and Jemaine Clement. That's really all it has going for it. It looks pretty and when Clement gets to go all Flight of the Conchords on the soundtrack the movie becomes immensely enjoyable for those few brief moments. After that, it's a pretty dull ride, following Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) around as he shows us just what a neurotic bird he can be. My nearly three year-old son couldn't sit through this in the theaters. I thought that once we got it home and watched it again he'd be more interested. Sadly, no. Twenty minutes into the movie he was off finding something else to do.
'Rio 2' is essentially a carbon copy of the first, with a few extras mixed in to make it look new. Since Blu and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) found love in the first movie we know by the law of animated sequels, the two of them must have a family this time around. That they do. Apparently their breeding ended successfully in propagating the dangerously threatened Blue Macaw. Three ruckus-causing feather balls have been added to their family.
Jewel fears her family has grown too domesticated. They're watching soccer on televisions, and making pancakes for breakfast. The Blue Macaw's main source of food, the Brazil Nut, is sourced not from a wild tree, but from an easily opened can. Jewel's kids don't even know how to open a Brazil Nut. She's worried.
Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) and Linda (Leslie Mann) are now running a nature preserve in Rio. Venturing into the Amazon to set a rescued bird free, they stumble upon what could be the find of a lifetime. A possible flock of Blue Macaws. Only there's a group of illegal loggers who'd like to shut them up before they can tell the world. Seeing an opportunity to teach her family a thing or two about living in the wild, Jewel convinces them to fly into the Amazon to find Tulio and Linda.
It's a fairly conventional story. It only starts to pick up steam and get fun when Nigel (Jemaine Clement) improbably enters the picture. He's been paired with Gabi (Kristen Chenoweth) a toxic tree frog who's madly in love with him. Most of the time you spend wishing the movie was more about them and their ridiculous relationship. A story that seems infinitely more interesting and full of much more potential than anything Blu has to offer.
The first movie suffered from a weak central character, and by default, so does this one. There's nothing inherently interesting about Blu, and with Eisenberg doing his best Eisenberg impression, it's really hard to get into the movie at all.
Once Nigel takes center stage and offers up his version of "I Will Survive," if you're still awake, that's the highlight of the movie. It's far too short for its own good since it's the movie's strongest sequence, by far.
That being said, the animation in 'Rio' has always been a sight to behold. It really is some of the most striking and colorful CGI out there. Both movies have featured some of the boldest visuals I've seen in computer animated movies. Each and every bird is lovingly detailed. On the surface it's really beautiful to look at.
Unfortunately, there's not much below the surface. There's a half-hearted environmentalist message that's too on-the-nose to be taken seriously. The characters, save Nigel and Gabi, are dreadfully uninteresting. Whenever an animated movie ends with a song-and-dance number it's a not so subtle indication that the entire movie went nowhere fast; a way to fit one more song on the soundtrack and brush aside any dramatic character resolutions that could've benefitted had they had the chance to develop in the first place. 'Rio 2' is just another bright, colorful distraction for the kiddies, and another money-waster for the parents.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This 'Rio 2' release comes with a 50GB Blu-ray, a DVD copy, and a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. The two discs are packed in a generic keepcase. A slipcover comes with it. The case indicates that this is a Region A release.
Was there any doubt that this would be a reference quality Blu-ray in terms of visuals? I mean the last one was, and this one might even look a smidge better, if that's possible. As much as I don't care for the 'Rio' narrative, its visuals are stunning. Blue Sky Studios and Fox Animation really put their all into creating extremely intricate and splendid imagery as far as 'Rio' is concerned.
The colors are to die for. There is so much color in these 'Rio' movies that it's impossible to mention them all in a single review. There are dozens of shades of blue adorning the various Blue Macaws shown in the movie. Not one bird looks alike. The greenery of the forest is lush and varied with all sorts of shades of green filling up the screen. Black areas are perfectly dark, without an ounce of crushing or banding in existence.
The clarity is top-notch. Feathers are intricately detailed. Even when there are hundreds of birds flying around on screen, the picture stays clear. There's so much depth and dimension here that it's easy to get lost in it all.
The DTS-Master Audio 7.1 mix gives this release a perfect one-two punch in terms of technical prowess. The 5.1 mix on 'Rio' was really great, but the two-channel upgrade here, bumps this mix up into the tip-top.
Say what you will about the movie's affinity for lame pop music, at least it sounds great when it's bee-bopping its way into your ears through seven speakers. The opening musical number is quite engrossing. As birds circle, swoop, and dive, the sound of their singing travels with them. There's sound coming from every channel as they sing. It sounds amazing. The same fidelity and clarity is present in every one of the movie's musical numbers.
The low-end bass is also abundant. When the loggers come in with their bulldozers and backhoes, the subwoofer starts working overtime. There are a few explosions that add to the deep, thundering bass that you can expect. Frankly, it's more LFE than you might expect from a musical-centric computer-animated movie about talking birds.
Panning effects are above reproach. Directionality couldn't be more precise. The extra two side channels add much-needed depth to an already multi-layered soundtrack. In the end, there's nothing that would warrant the least bit of complaining here.
I don't like the 'Rio' movies enough to come right out and give them a recommendation. The color-by-numbers nature of their narratives dulls the entire experience. Perhaps if they gave more time to Nigel, I'd find myself liking the series much more than I do.
This is a perfect example of a bad movie, but good disc recommendation. The video and audio portions of this release are stellar in every regard. Using it as demo material is a no-brainer. It just looks and sounds so great that it's hard to pass up this release even though the actual movie is so mediocre.