Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rio: Predictable, but the presentation enhances the experience

Rio (Animation, Adventure, Comedy)
Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Starring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway and George Lopez

20th Century Fox | 2011 | 96 min | Rated G | Released Aug 02, 2011

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
French, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

English SDH, Spanish

50GB Blu-ray Disc
DVD copy
Digital copy

The Film 3.5/5

After seeing a trailer for Rio, I wasn’t expecting much when I finally sat down to watch the movie. The trailer consisted of animals shrieking or screaming and performing stupid moves such as dancing. I also dislike that every scene has to be punctuated with a blast from the subwoofer. I chose to watch your trailer and you’re going to hold my attention for two minutes, so you don’t have to blast noise at me to keep me watching. I'll decide whether something is interesting or dramatic by myself, thanks. That’s becoming a huge annoyance.

Anyway, let’s get back to the movie.

I love the way Rio opens. There are birds everywhere and they are happily dancing. The colors are very striking and I don’t think I have ever seen a more colorful movie. Birds and other animals seem to cover most of the colors in the spectrum and the look of the movie is appealing throughout.

Blu (Eisenberg) is a tiny young macaw and he’s captured during the opening scene. We see him rescued by a girl named Linda (Leslie Mann), and he’s completely happy as her pet for the next 15 years. The two share a bond and it’s a heartwarming relationship. Their world is turned upside down when an ornithologist begs her to take Blu to Brazil as he’s thought to be the last male of his species. Linda is reluctant, but eventually agrees.

The two fly to Rio and Blu is introduced to Jewel (Hathaway), his prospective mate. Jewel is more concerned about escape and can’t understand why Blu tolerates humans. The two are left overnight to begin their courtship, but a boy steals them and sells them to a gang which deals in rare birds. 

The remainder of the story shows what happens as Linda tries to find Blu. She initially rescued him before he learned how to fly and it becomes clear that he still hasn’t discovered how it’s done. Blu is aided by a variety of other birds as he attempts to find Linda. The gang enlists minions to find Blu and Jewel, resulting in a number of fights and chase scenes.

Rio lacks the heart of Pixar movies, but it does have some redeeming qualities. The story is far from original and it’s not difficult to guess the entire plot after a few minutes. Despite that, some of the scenes are quite charming. It’s fast-paced and doesn’t contain any dull moments. I imagine younger children being captivated by Blu’s adventures and the color scheme and ever-present Brazilian music is more than enough to hold their attention. 

I enjoyed the story. Yes, I knew what was going to happen, but I found the characters quite likable. The animation becomes more detailed as the story progresses and some of the scenes contain incredible detail. The music is catchy and will be burned into your brain if you’re not careful. This movie won’t change your life, but it’s an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes.

Video Quality 5/5
The most obvious thing about the picture quality is the excellent use of color. The transfer boasts a variety of appealing colors and will capture your attention. The backgrounds seem a little unfinished in the opening scenes, but that’s a stylistic choice and not a fault of the presentation. Later scenes, such as those in the Carnaval, are full of detail. You can clearly make out feathers and hairs on the various animals, and some of the scenery looks spectacular. This is a feast for the eyes and shouldn’t disappoint anyone.

Audio Quality 5/5
The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix matches the excellent video quality. The opening scene hints at what is to come and features a pounding Brazilian beat with a multitude of birds singing and squawking. Dialogue is clear throughout the movie and background sounds are frequently worked into the mix.

Special Features 4/5

The extras are all presented in full HD:

The Fruit Stand (1:29) – A deleted scene in which the animation is unfinished.

Explore the World of Rio – An interactive map with four locations to explore.

Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time (24:49) – The best of the features includes comments from the cast and crew.

The Making of Hot Wings (8:02) – Talking about some of the music used in the movie.

Boom-Boom Tish-Tish: The Sounds of Rio (13:30) – A more in-depth look at the music.

Carnival Dance-o-Rama – Learn various dance moves.

Welcome to Rio Music Video (1:37)

Taio Cruz – Telling the World Music Video (1:54)

Rio de Jam-eiro Jukebox (8:34) – Includes five songs from the movie.

Postcards from Rio – Create your own postcards.

The Real Rio (9:31) – Cast and crew comment on the real place.

Theatrical Trailer (2:26)

Digital Copy “How To” (3:35)

Angry Birds:
Trailer (1:32), Nigel Mashup (2:17) and Exclusive Clue Video (0:28)


Rio is fun to experience at least once. It’s suitable for the whole family, but children will probably get the most from it. The Blu-ray presentation is wonderful and makes a slightly above average story a lot easier to enjoy. 

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