- Street Date:
- August 2nd, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- Aaron Peck
- Review Date: 1
- August 5th, 2011
- Movie Release Year:
- 20th Century Fox
- 95 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated G
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of 'Rio 3D.'
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
'Rio' is the latest CG animated movie in a long line of CG animated movies to try and distract its viewers with colorful animation so they don't focus on the flimsy plot. I'm not saying that a movie specifically geared towards kids has to have an intricate plot, but it's got to have some depth. Ever since the founding of Pixar, we've been inundated with one CG animated feature after another. Some of them have heart and soul, others don't. 'Rio' lands somewhere in the middle. It isn't on the same level as 'Up' or 'How to Train Your Dragon', but it does hold its own better than say 'Gnomeo & Juliet'.
Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is a rare blue Macaw. Thought to be the last known male in existence. He was found, abandoned, at a young age by Linda (Leslie Mann). Together they created a human-bird duo where the bird acts much more human than possible – fixing toast, drinking hot chocolate, and creating secret handshakes that end in make believe explosions. Blu's just fine with his pet-like existence. He never learned how to fly, but he doesn't care. Life is good.
Then a scientist named Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) walks through the door and announces that Blu needs to come to Rio to mate with the last known female (Anne Hathaway) of his species. Linda relents, and it's off to Rio for a few poppy hip-hop songs, wise-talking animal friends, a bit of danger, and a happy-go-lucky resolution.
There's not much to 'Rio' at all. It's your standard journey home type story all the while the two main characters are being pursued by greedy gangsters who want to sell them.
Jesse Eisenberg is the wrong choice here. His comedic timing depends so much on his mannerisms. He's funny in 'Zombieland' because of how he squirms and reacts to certain situations. Stick him in a sound booth and he loses most of what makes him fun to watch. 'Rio' is another animated Fox movie where Fox believes that sticking a bunch of names on the case will help sell it. Kids don't know (and most adults won't care) if George Lopez is voicing someone in your movie. Who cares that they got Jane Lynch, Wanda Sykes, Will i Am, Jamie Foxx, and Tracy Morgan to take on bit parts? I don't think anyone does. Especially not the kids who will be watching it.
'Rio's song choices are chosen because of their popularity, and catchiness, not necessarily because they're good tunes. Most of the songs here will be instantly dated in two to three years. None of them will remain in our heads as classic musical fare. Except maybe the song sung by a molting, ugly cockatoo voiced by Jemaine Clement ('Flight of the Conchords') whose casting in this movie is the only one that makes any sense. I wouldn't be surprised if he actually wrote it. It's a clever, funny song, and just about the only scene in the whole movie that is geared more toward an adult audience. 'Rio' is also another one of those animated movies that has no idea how to actually end their movie so they throw another song and dance number at you as the credits roll.
'Rio' is bright, colorful, and full of lush animation. The humans look a bit off-putting, but the rest of the movie is very lushly animated. I was actually surprised that it looked so well done. Still, looks only go so far, and when you have a by-the-numbers story as the foundation it's hard to not become stagnant.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Rio' comes in a three disc combo pack. A 50GB Blu-ray houses the feature film. There's also a DVD copy of the film and a separate disc for the Digital Copy. It's all packaged in a normal Blu-ray case, with a swinging arm in the middle that holds two discs back-to-back with another disc hub located on the inside of the back cover. The release is said to be region free.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Well, I'm not sure what I can really say here other than 'Rio' is perfect in every conceivable way. The film's animation is some of the best that's come from Fox. It's beautifully colored, and provides a realistic, charming look at Rio and its surrounding areas.
Colors are so bright and so vivid that you'll have to use this as demo material. The panning shots, as the camera zooms around Rio and its famous Christ the Redeemer statue, look stunning. Simply stunning. There's a scene towards the end where a bunch of birds burst out of an airplane and fill the sky with all kinds of colors from dark reds and electric greens, to jet blacks and watery blues. Clarity is top-notch. There's no surpassing the sharpness and refinement going on here. The animation is so finely detailed that it's easy to see the individual strands on each of the birds' feathers as they ruffle them.
This is perfection. Demo material through and through. Blu-ray shows that, once again, well done CG animation is its best friend. Everyone should be happy to show this one off.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
'Rio's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is almost as impressive as the visuals. It doesn't stack up to the more nuanced mixes of 'Monsters Inc.' or 'Wall-e', but it does find a great balance with all the sambas they're doing.
The pop-music filled soundtrack is piped through each and every channel. The rear channels offer a bevy of action; birds cawing, people cheering, and the everyday foot traffic of a busy Rio street. Dialogue is always intelligible even during the craziest, most intense action scenes. Panning effects work smoothly as birds and planes zoom from channel to channel.
LFE is constantly present drumming through the musical numbers, and pounding when the sounds of Carnival become increasingly louder. Prioritization and directionality are both handled with care. While 'Rio' may lack a more nuanced sound design – mostly because it's bashing you over the head with one catchy pop song after another – it still will please many audiophiles with its ability to showcase the great sound of a huge Brazilian party.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
- Deleted Scene (HD, 1 min.) — A short deleted scene is included here called "Fruit Stand". It isn't finished animation, rather it's some storyboards from the movie's production along with voices done for the scene by the actors.
- Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time (HD, 25 min.) — This is the requisite "who's who" featurette that must be provided when you have so many celebrities doing the voices. They all talk about how much they love working on an animated film. You know, the standard stuff.
- The Making of Hot Wings (HD, 8 min.) — A look at what it was like in the studio with Will i Am and Jamie Foxx while they were recording.
- The Real Rios (HD, 9 min.) — A short featurette about how the filmmakers traveled to Rio to get a good idea of how they would animate it for the film.
- Boom Boom Tish Tish: The Sound of Brazil (HD, 13 min.) — A look at the music that went into 'Rio'.
- Welcome to Rio Music Video (HD, 1 min.) — Obligatory music video that seems to have to be on just about every kids release ever.
- Telling the World Music Video (HD, 2 min.) — Another music video.
- Rio de Jam-eiro Jukebox (HD, 8 min.) — Gives you a jumping off point to access the musical scenes in the movie.
- Postcards from Rio (HD) — Create your own Rio postcards.
- Angry Birds 'Rio' (HD) — In here you can watch a trailer for Angry Birds Rio (1 min.), a "Nigel Mashup" (2 min.), and watch a video on how to secretly access 15 extra levels on the iPhone or Android game.
- Trailer (HD, 2 min.) — There's a theatrical trailer provided.
- Explore the World of 'Rio' (HD) — An interactive tour of Rio that you control with your remote. Take a look, it's pretty fun. It takes you through the sights of Rio.
- Carnival Dance-o-Rama (HD) — Learn how to dance from some of the movie's characters.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
'Rio' is okay if you're looking for a movie to plop your kids in front of and hope they become distracted by the bright, flashing colors. Kids will most likely love 'Rio's silliness, but that same silliness may put parents to sleep. There's little here that will allow parents to enjoy the movie along with their kids, which is a real shame. Still the audio and video are simply stunning and there's a wide variety of extras to search through. Even though I'm not a big fan of the movie itself I'm still recommending 'Rio' mostly because of its amazing demo-worthy look and sound.
- Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Party Edition
- 1080p/AVC MPEG 4
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- French Dolby Digital 5.1
- Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- English, Spanish
- Explore the World of Rio
- The Real Rio
- Deleted Scene: Fruit Stand
- Postcards from Rio
- Carnival Dance O Rama
- Rio de JAM-eiro Jukebox
- Angry Birds Rio (Trailer, Nigel Mash Up, and Instructional Video)
- Music Videos
- Blu Shows the Way (Introduction)
- Boom-Boom Tish-Tish: The Sounds of Rio
- The Making of Hot Wings
- Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time
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