Review: RIO (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Review: RIO (2011)


All flying swagger and dipped in a colorful gloss, director Carlos Saldanha's RIO is pretty much the same old formulaic animated feature aimed squarely for those non-fussy kiddies and viewers fancied for a no-brainer entertainment.

Ever since he was kidnapped from his native habitat of Rio de Janeiro, the blue macaw bird named Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) is adopted and domesticated by a lovely Minnesota resident Linda (Leslie Mann) where they are happily stay together like a close-knit best friends. Life is certainly good for Blu, until the arrival of a clumsy-looking Brazilian ornithologist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) who shows up one snowy morning with news that Blu is one of only two known endangered species ever left in the world. So he convinces Linda to travel to Rio in favor that Blu will mate with the last remaining female macaw named Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and save their species from total extinction. At first Blu and Jewel doesn't get along, as Jewel is more concerned of escaping from the confined space and longed for freedom. Then it doesn't take long before something bad is happen: A trio of money-hungry poachers end up capturing these two rare birds, with the help of their ruthless cockatoo, Nigel (Jemaine Clement). Realized that they have to do something to set themselves free, Blu and Jewel subsequently find their way to escape while chained together. Except there's one little problem that keep slowing them down -- Blu has never learned how to fly.

As expected, 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios knows best when comes to dazzling display of technical details. The exotic-looking Rio de Janeiro setting is well-realized here, while the sights of different species of birds and other animal characters are simply wonderful to look at. The song-and-dance sequences, aided with a concoction of lively soundtracks (with some memorable tunes from Sergio Mendes, Will i Am and among others), are fun enough to listen for.

Carlos Saldanha's direction is fast and highly energetic, who knows well how to orchestrate some exciting set-pieces that keeps the viewers on the edge of their seat. Among them are the manic chase between the two chained macaw birds and the cockatoo through the streets of Rio -- a stunning choreography of well-timed editing and fluid camerawork.

All the primary entertainment aside, it's sad that screenwriters Don Rhymer, Josh Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, and Sam Harper, fails to lift off the fun-loving material into something more emotionally worthwhile. Sure, the colorful set of characters are well-acted by excellent voice talents (particularly from the devilish turn by Jemaine Clement as Nigel) but the story remains lackluster. Let's just say a series of banalities comes to mind here.

Clocking at a 95 minutes, there's really nothing much to say about RIO (lesson about follow your heart and learn how to fly? Hmm... that kind of morality could have done better than being simplistic though). It's fun and entertaining while it lasts, but RIO is also forgettable as well.

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