Review: RIO 2 (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Review: RIO 2 (2014)

An overcrowded but entertainingly colourful sequel to 2011's RIO.

With an impressive worldwide gross of US$484.6 million in 2011's RIO, it's just a matter of time before 20th Century Fox animation and Blue Sky Studios green-lit an inevitable sequel to capitalize the franchise potential and milk more money at the box office. Thanks to 20th Century Fox Malaysia for the special invitation, I'm glad to see RIO 2 manages to retain the colourful fun that characterized the first RIO while doubled up the overall entertainment value in this sequel.

In this sequel, we learn that the two rare blue macaw birds, Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway), are now settled down together while raising their three young chicks (Pierce Gagnon, Rachel Crow and Amandla Stenberg) at the city of Rio de Janeiro. When Blu's former owner Linda (Leslie Mann) and her husband Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) found proof that there are surviving group of endangered blue macaws somewhere in the Amazon rainforest, Jewel convinces Blu that the family should head over to the jungle and reunite with their relatives. Soon Blu and his family is accompanied with their best pals including toucan Rafael (George Lopez), cardinal Pedro ( and canary Nico (Jamie Foxx) as they embark for the adventure.

Once arrived, Jewel is delighted to see her long-lost father Eduardo (Andy Garcia) is still alive and so does the rest of her family. However, Eduardo doesn't particularly like the way Blu behaves like a city bird and determines to train him what a true blue macaw should be. Meanwhile, the deranged cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) from the first RIO, is so obsessed on plotting a revenge against Blu and Jewel at all cost. And this time, he has additional helps from his love-crazy poisonous frog Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth) and anteater Charlie. But there's more trouble ahead when Big Boss (Miguel Ferrer) and his men kidnapped Linda and Tulio for trying to mess up his plan to cut down the trees in the Amazon rainforest.

Carlos Saldanha's direction is pacey enough to keep the viewers entertained throughout the running time, while the music and the songs are brimming with lots of colourful zest. From the catchy rhythms of Brazilian bossa nova and samba to a collection of contemporary tunes such as Janelle Monae's What Is Love (which is heard earlier at the beginning of the movie), Bruno Mars' Welcome Back, and Jemaine Clement's and Kristin Chenoweth's quirky version of I Will Survive, the soundtrack selection in RIO 2 is simply impressive.

Like the first RIO, the animation is great as Saldanha along with his team of animators and visual-effect artists has put a lot of effort creating a series of eye-catching animated imageries with attention to detail. The lush landscape of the Amazon rainforest is a sight to behold, and so does the colourful animal characters as well as some of the well-staged action sequences (such as the soccer-like match and the cliffhanger finale involving the battle of the birds against the illegal loggers).

Some of the returning casts here from the first RIO including Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway and Jemaine Clement, give spirited performances here. The rest of the supporting characters, including Andy Garcia as the authorative Eduardo and Bruno Mars as the show-offy Roberto, are equally impressive but it was Kristin Chenoweth that shines the most as Gabi. Apart from her incredible singing voice, she brings a lot of passion into her scene-stealing performance as a poisonous frog who is madly in love with Nigel.
Kristin Chenoweth's tune of "Poisonous Love" at which she sings so emotionally to express her Romeo and Juliet-like forbidden love for Nigel, is simply breathtaking.
The overall plot is predictable with no cliches left unturned, while all the messages (e.g. preserve the rainforest, protect your family and your tradition, etc.) that tries to bring out throughout the movie are pretty much familiar stuff. At times, RIO 2 feels unnecessarily overstuffed with too many subplots (e.g. the romance rivalry between Blu and Jewel's childhood friend Roberto, played by singer Bruno Mars).

While RIO 2 hardly qualifies as one of the best animated features of 2014, this sequel is good enough to serve its purpose as a fun-filled family entertainment.

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