'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 3D' arrives as a four-disc combo pack with a slightly-bigger than normal blue keepcase and a glossy cardboard slipcover. The first two are Region Free, BD50 discs with one containing only the 3D presentation of the movie minus the bonus material and the second is the 2D video with all the special features. The last two are a DVD-9 with some supplements and a Digital Copy. At startup, each commences with a series of skippable trailers and an animated short featuring Scrat of the 'Ice Age' movies. Afterwards, we have the usual menu selection with full motion-clips and music playing in the background.
'Rio' debuts on Blu-ray 3D with a superb transfer that shines from the very moment it commences. Even while wearing the dark glasses, the 2.40:1-framed window comes with an incredible pop and radiance thanks to a brilliant, pitch-perfect contrast. Black levels are profoundly deep and inky, which adds to the digital image's beautiful cinematic quality, and viewers never lose any visibility in the darker portions of the video. Everything remains plain and clear in shadows and interiors. With the story taking place in Brazil during Carnival, it's reasonable to expect lots of colors and excitement, and the picture definitely doesn't disappoint. It's full of rich, vivid primaries, dazzling with high-spirited enthusiasm and crisp, stunning energy. Every color imaginable is on display and perfectly rendered without the slightest hitch.
The colorful palette works outstandingly well in the 3D realm, giving it that extra push and bang in the standard effects shots. Full of this vibrancy, the video displays a consistent three-dimensional space from start to finish. With perfect black levels already in place, depth and range are remarkable, making excellent differentiation between the background and foreground. Many sequences, such as when Blu first arrives in Brazil and they drive around the streets by the beach, objects in the far distance actually seem to be moving from a great distance. Rafael's enormous beak provides some of the best subtle 3D moments, popping in and out of the screen every time the toucan moves his head about. The only drawback in this utterly splendid presentation is several, very noticeable and often distracting instances of crosstalk. Sometimes, they're very minor, mostly during interiors. Other times, they are annoyingly terrible and awful, like when Fernando takes Linda and Túlio to the smugglers' secret shack.
If we try to ignore this, however, 'Rio' can yield a first-rate 3D presentation that would easily rank as reference level.
Like the video, the audio presentation to this bird-brain animated flick is loads of fun and astounding. It's full of music and energy, all wonderfully displayed by an expansive imaging that's highly engaging and inviting.
Thanks to a perfectly balanced and sharp mid-range, song selections are crystal-clear and beautifully dynamic, delivering rich clarity in the highs and clean separation in the instrumentation. The low-end is equally full-bodied and robust to give the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack a rhythmic, lively and bumping characteristic. With flawless dialogue reproduction expressing every emotive squeak in Eisenberg's voice, the entire soundstage is in a constant state of activity with marvelous spatial presence, fluid movement between the channels and convincing off-screen effects. The rears provide very subtle sounds which don't overwhelm the listener, yet generate a satisfyingly immersive ambience that's quite enjoyable — a terrifically amusing romp for the whole family.
Fox Home Entertainment offers a healthy collection of supplements for the whole family to enjoy long after watching the movie. Many of them are shared with the standard-def release.
From Aaron's Review:
'Rio' is okay if you're looking for a movie to plop your kids in front of an 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 Blu-ray 3D edition comes with an exceptional audio/video presentation that will surely impress better than the film itself. The bonus section features a healthy collection of supplements, making this package a recommended purchase for those in need of more 3D material.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.