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Rio is an animated film released in 2011. The film focuses on the life of Blu, a macaw who was smuggled into the country and ends up being found by Linda who brings him up in a mainly domesticated lifestyle. The story takes off when Tulio, an expert in the bird species arrives and wants Blu to save the macaw species and mate with the only female macaw left, named Jewel. The only trouble is that she is in Brazil. Blu, Linda and Tulio travel to Brazil with lots of adventures encountered on the way. Smugglers attempt to steal Blu and it is at this point that we meet several other characters that become Blu's friends and who help each other to escape and to find Linda. There are also enemies that are introduced and try to interrupt their plans. Throughout the film one gets drawn to the different personalities and emotions shown throughout the film, which I think is always a positive sign. Linda clearly has strong feelings for Blu, who reciprocates the feelings, but who also realises from his encounter in Brazil that he is different to the other birds, in that he cannot fly. I found myself feeling for Blu and thankfully there is a happy ending. There is lots of energy and vibrance in the film. It is very colourful which keeps one's attention and makes it interesting to watch. On the other hand, the contrast of the smugglers and the evil animals create a different outlook and brings a deeper, darker level to the film which one doesn't necessarily expect. I found the film to be very entertaining, one of the better animations that have been released recently and is a great all round film for everyone!
Blu lives with his owner Linda in Minnesota, with a pretty domesticated life far away from his beginnings in Rio, where he was stolen by exotic bird smugglers until he was rescued by Linda. However, when she is approahced by a bird specialist who informs her that Blu is one of the last 2 blue macaws in the world and he wants Blu to meet the female macaw Jewel, Linda's world is turned upside down. Together with Blu and Tulio, she travels to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and the pair go on the adventure of a lifetime. When he meets Jewel, Blu is unsure about what to do but when they are captured together by more smugglers intending to sell them on, Blu and Jewel find themselves fleeing for their lives. There's only one problem. Blu can't fly. How will Jewel and Blu be able to escape and keep blue macaws alive for good? With a little help from their exotic bird friends, the pair might just make it... This is one children's film I have been dying to see for a long time, but I didn't want to spend a small fortune going to see it with Harry since it wasn't one he was especially interested in. Luckily for me, it was this week's KidsAM film at Vue cinemas so we got to see it for just £1.25 a ticket, bargain! The cinema was packed, despite it being the fifth showing this week in our town, so it's certainly a popular film and now I've seen it, I know why! It was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish, an explosion of colour, fun, music and happiness, and both Harry and I were riveted from the minute it began to when it ended. It seemed everyone came out with a smile on their face, and I know its one I'll be buying on DVD when its released, I can certainly see us enjoying it over and over! Everything was tied up nicely at the end, nothing left hanging, the story telling here certainly better than a few children's movies I have seen. The animation on the film is stunning, and visually it's gorgeous to look at. The setting is Rio de Janiero in Brazil, and that allows the animators and director to go crazy with fun, colour and some amazing crowd scenery at the infamous Carneval. Not only are the human characters (Linda and Tulio) animated perfectly, but the birds are wonderfully done, and not forgetting Luiz the bulldog too! But everything is excellently done on the birds, from their feathers to their facial expressions. Many birds are represented in the film, and the scenes at the beginning in the jungle are visually stunning, such pure and vivid colours bringing each of them to life. Little things such as the sequins on character costumes at the Carneval showed the attention to detail with the animation and it was just a beautiful watch, certainly up with the likes of Disney Pixar films. The story itself is one which works well for the duration of the film, and allows a lot of exciting things to happen to keep the attention of its young target audience. It really picks up once Blu and Jewel are kidnapped by a young Brazilian boy Fernando on behalf of the bird smugglers. It allows the introduction of the evil cockatoo Nigel, who happens to be a former television star who hates exotic birds and tries to help his owner Marcel capture as many as he can. The two blue macaws escape and end up in the jungle, and are then on a mission to remove the chain linking them together, and to flee Nigel, who is hunting them down, for good. There's a lot of humour thrown in through their peril, with Blu's flightlessness being a particularly funny point in their escape. The use of Nigel as the baddie is fantastic, he's a hideously ugly bird but children loved his nastiness, especially when he enlists the help of some thieving Marmosets! The setting of Rio is just perfect too, allowing gorgeous jungle, bustling cities and poor suburbs to be shown throughout the movie. The voice cast also did a really job with their roles, bringing to life their animal characters perfectly. Jesse Eisenberg is someone whose voice I didn't recognise in the movie, but now of course recognise him from The Social Network. He did a great job with Blu, his voice weirdly suited to the bird, and helped deliver a lot of Blu's line with humour. Anne Hathaway (again, didn't recognise her!) was the female macaw Jewel, and she was good but I can't say she was spectacular, I imagine any female actress would have done just as good a job. 2 actors I did like were Will. I. Am as a rapping Cardinal called Pedro, a role I certainly wouldn't have seen him doing before! Jamie Foxx was also great as Nico, Pedro's friend who is a yellow canary. They perform a great musical number together, and really were great to listen to performing. Leslie Mann voices Blu's human owner Linda, she does a good job putting across Linda's love for Blu but again, it's nothing overly special to be honest. George Lopez also takes a turn as Toucan Rafael, a bird who takes Blu and Jewel under his wing to help them escape psychotic Nigel, who is brilliantly voiced by Jermaine Clement. The movie is full of fun and music, singing and peril, and its perfect entertainment for children. Harry absolutely loved it, proclaiming Jewel as his favourite character although mine had to be Blu! I loved the Carneval scenes, in the cinema atmosphere you're almost swept along with the party atmosphere, the banging music and dancing people. I also loved the "bird rave" halfway through, simply brilliant watching birds do the samba! There was nothing at all dislikeable about this, it's got a great soundtrack full of Brazilian-esque music that has your toes tapping, lots of characters for you to enjoy and an exciting story that has you on the edge of your seat until the end. Kids will love it, adults will certainly enjoy watching it... although if you're a sucker for kids films like I am, you'll probably love it too! I especially loved how delicately the relationship between Blu and Linda was handled at the beginning, it was wonderfully done and really allows the viewer to understand Linda's anguish when her beloved Blu goes missing. A wonderful children's animation that will soon be taking pride of place in our DVD collection for sure. Written and Directed by Carlos Saldanha Running Time: 96 minutes Certificate: U Main Cast: Jesse Eisenberg ... Blu (voice) Anne Hathaway ... Jewel (voice) Jamie Foxx ... Nico (voice) Will i Am ... Pedro (voice) (as will.i.am) Rodrigo Santoro ... Tulio Leslie Mann ... Linda (voice) Jake T. Austin ... Fernando (voice) Jemaine Clement ... Nigel (voice) George Lopez ... Rafael (voice) Tracy Morgan ... Luiz (voice) The DVD is released on 24th October 2011, and is available from £12.99 (Amazon.co.uk). Blu-ray is available from £14.99. Thank you for reading.
Outside of Pixar, the quality of recent animated offerings have varied wildly, from the pits of Monsters vs Aliens and Shrek jumping the shark not once, but twice, to a host of, happily, much better efforts. Rio falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of quality, with a story that calls on all the tropes and predictabilities of light-family-adventure but has enough visual flair and a sufficiently impressive, well-chosen voice cast to nudge it towards the jollier end of the scale. The creation of Blue Sky Studios, the people behind the excellent (if slightly over-franchised ...) Ice Age, Rio spins a pretty unambitious tale, but has the good sense to set it in a location that makes for plenty of beautifully-rendered visuals and lends itself well to a soundtrack that jumps and bounces along with a vigour that might be a little cliched, but sets the film apart from other animations, which have rather left the set-piece songs and whatnot behind. The film unfolds, after all, in Rio de Janeiro, and if the Samba rhythms that proprel the story merrily along are predictable, they're also rather enjoyable. Blu, a macaw who was taken from his jungle home in the type of sad little prelude that's become almost obligatory since Up, is a comfortable, over-domesticated animal who lives contentedly with his adopted owner Linda in the United States. He lives in her bookshop, consumes substantial quantities of hot chocolate and has never needed to learn to fly. Such an existence makes for little drama, however, and when a Brazilian scientist turns up, delighted to find such a rare specimen as Blu, the film wastes little time getting into gear. Rio is sharply, dazzlingly brought to life (even if this is the sweetly-polished version, in which the favelas (slums) look like up-and-coming neighbourhoods), and the fusion of colourful vistas and a jumping soundtrack is enormously, immediately impressive. In Rio, Blu is introduced (forcibly) to Jewel, apparently the only other known member of their species. In predictable fashion, sassy, street-smart Jewel and mollycoddled Blu clash initially, end up stuck together and lost ... throw in a few petty criminals, their badass parrot sidekick, a cast of quirky, music-and-party-loving animals and that thorny non-flying problem, and you've got a procession to the finale that's low on surprises but nonetheless plenty charming and engaging. Voice-casts aren't everything in animations (see Shark Tale for an example of a stellar cast failing to keep a turgid tale afloat), but Rio's is both impressive and well-suited to its characters. Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway give zippy life to the parrot protagonists, while Jermaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) is so well-suited to the role of villainous henchbird Nigel it's a wonder he hasn't voiced this type of character before. Will I-Am and Jamie Foxx are for their parts lively and largely pretty entertaining as Rio locals Pedro and Nico (and only sporadically annoying). It's the visuals that really sparkle here though. This is true on the large-scale, where Rio, if a little unrealistically glossy (although this is a kids' film, not City of God) looks simply stunning, everything leaping off the screen in verdant tones (at least in 2D ... I imagine everything looks typically blue and muted in 3D, like you're watching it through your jumper, ala old fuzzed-out movies). In terms of individual scenes, too, there's some wonderful work that's gone into bringing the story alive - a tram ride through the city most memorably realised. We've become accustomed to the wonders of modern animation, but Rio is genuinely striking, and although Blue Sky's human characters look a little too like the over-caricatured peoples of Dreamworks, their rendering of landscapes, their animal sprites and above all, their eye for an impressive scene shine through. Make no mistake, the story is wholly pedestrian, and signposts every turn of its plot clearly enough that your average five year-old will be able to tell you what's going to happen after ten minutes. Again though, this isn't a problem, because it isn't a film that relies on intricate or unconventional storytelling. You know who's going to do what, where and most of the time when - but it's no less enjoyable to watch it happen. Following on from Ice Age, this is another entertaining, well-characterised creature feature ... but sequels are probably unnecessary this time.
* FILM ONLY REVIEW * The creators of the animated movie "Ice Age" have brought us a new gem in the way of "Rio", which is an animated movie with a 'U' certificate, it is available to watch in 3D as well as a 2D option. My local cinema was not showing the film in 3D so it is the other version I am reviewing here. The undeniable star of "Rio" is a blue macaw parrot called "Blu", who we, as the audience, feel a rather strong pang of sympathy for, given the rather unfortunate beginnings that we see the baby Blu having to endure. Kidnapped from his natural habitat by poachers when just a baby, he is smuggled into the USA, and finds himself in the hands of an unknown stranger. Luckily for him, that particular stranger is a very kind soul, and adopts the baby bird, and what develops as a result is a lovely friendship between human and bird. This friendship is not difficult to understand given the fact that there is a really lovely sequence near the beginning of the film that shows how harmoniously Blu and his owner, Linda, live together, and we get to see several little 'moments' between them that come as a result of working as a team and being so close. This impression is re-confirmed when we then see Blu accompany Linda to her workplace, where he has his own cage and there is a general feeling of contentment and happiness portrayed from the screen. As with any decent animated tale however, this harmony cannot last and there is a twist in the tale. Linda has a visitor at her shop one day who turns out to be a bird expert and he informs Linda that Blu is in fact a very rare bird, encouraging Linda to consider a breeding programme for Blu, to which she finally agrees. This results in Linda and Blu heading off to the exotic land of Rio De Janeiro to meet Blu's new mate, a pretty female blue macaw called Jewel. Not long after the arrival of Blu in Rio, there is an exciting turn of events which eventually leads to Blu being kidnapped by a group of bird-napping petty criminals. With the help of Jewel and a few other feathered friends he encounters along the way, Blu eventually manages to escape the clutches of his captors and so begins his search to be reunited with Linda. He has many hurdles to overcome in his search however, and must continuously dodge the evil bird-nappers, who are constantly on his trail. This is even more difficult to do as Blu has a significant disadvantage over the other birds in the group...... he cannot fly. Will Blu manage to track down Linda and be reunited with his companion? Will the evil bird-nappers succeed in their ploy to capture Blu once more? And above all, will Blu ever summon the courage to spread his wings and fly? * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Rio is a film with a little bit of everything. I found that the story-line contained no flaws or glitches in the way that some other animated tales do. I didn't think that there was any aspect of the story that had not been explained or anything that didn't quite 'add up' which is something I have come to notice from time to time with this type of animated film. Rio, in comparison had a very thorough 'plan' throughout the story. The team behind Rio set out to tell the audience a tale, and they succeeded, from beginning to end. Every good story has a bad guy, and this film is no exception. In actual fact, it has several baddies which add to the 'thrill' of the chase in terms of the bird-napping threat that is present throughout the movie. There is even a feathered baddie, Nigel, who belongs to the bird-napping gang, and this helps to reinforce the threats in the storyline... The (human) gang of bird-nappers are of course chasing the birds for their own evil purposes, whilst Nigel is able to reinforce this threat as he can actually 'talk' to the birds directly. He makes no secret of the fact that he is boss around these parts, is proud of his 'Hench bird' title and in fact has cannibalistic tendencies. He sings a song to Blu and Jewel at one point in the movie, which gives an insight to his past, and this allows his character to gain a little more 'depth' instead of being one of those bad guys who hovers around the background of the movie and provides little or no real threat. No, make no mistake, one of the main struggles that Blu and his companions have to overcome is the evil Nigel's attempts to sabotage their escape plans, and this is delivered successfully, and in full force, to the audience of the film. The voice of Nigel is provided by Jemaine Clement, who is an unknown actor to me but I thought he did a fantastic job with providing a seriously nasty voice for the evil Nigel. Praise is also due to the rapper Will.I.am, of The Black Eyed Peas, who provided the voice of Pedro, a bird who befriends Blu along his travels. Pedro's companion and side-kick is a small yellow canary called Nico, who provided several comedy moments throughout the movie. This part is voiced by Jamie Foxx who did an amazing job at providing the comedic timing that is vital to an accompanying role such as this one. There are several other birds that Blu encounters along his way, and really too many to mention individually, but all were cast perfectly in my opinion, and all the actors and actresses in question gave the individual birds enough personality and character to make them thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The real stars of the show are of course the two blue macaws, with Blu taking centre stage, and rightly so. Jesse Eisenberg does a great job at bringing the bird to life, and provides just enough feeling to the character to entice us as the audience to feel saddened at his unfortunate misadventures. Blu has no doubt had a tough start in life, and is later on seen to be facing struggles-a-plenty, but I personally think that the wrong actor in Blu's shoes could have been a fatal mistake for the film-makers here, as Blu's situation MUST invoke feelings of sympathy, compassion and understanding in order that the film's plot and storyline are executed to their full potential. Fear not... they did it, and they did it well. There seems to be a feeling of mixed opinion about this film, if other reviews are to be considered at least, but I personally cannot fault the acting talents or the story-line, the plots or the animation. (And if I remember rightly, "Ice Age" (an animated movie by the same producers and animators as Rio) got mixed reviews too, which came as a huge surprise to me personally as it remains one of my favourite animated tales today.) Granted, I was disappointed at first that my local cinema had failed to show the 3D version of the movie at the time we had chosen to go, and was grumbling to my husband about it when we were seated in the cinema hall. I can honestly say that within ten minutes of watching the movie, any grumblings I had were put to rest altogether, such is the vibrancy and brightness of the animation throughout. In particular, some of the opening scenes of the movie - which contain a lot of parrots and birds in dancing mode - were extremely eye-catching, setting the pace at a reasonably high level which was continued throughout the film. In actual fact, there were two occasions throughout the movie that invoked an audible gasp from my five year old niece who was accompanying us to see Rio at the cinema, one of which occurred during the opening scenes I have mentioned here. If that's not proof of some on-screen magnificence, then I don't know what is. As you may have guessed, I thoroughly enjoyed watching "Rio", and would whole-heartedly recommend it for young audiences as well as those of us who are fans of animated adventures. I felt that there was no aspect to the movie that left me feeling disappointed or that I would improve and think that it is an absolute hit, as did my husband and our niece. It is one that I will be buying on DVD when it is released, without a shadow of a doubt!