Animation has always been a medium of entertainment that has remained mostly catered towards a young audience. Young audiences tend to connect much better with these wacky colorful characters which larger than life stories and designs. It’s a concept that was introduced ages ago, to make sure all children were watching content that didn’t make them feel agitated or develop any violent tendencies within them after the psychological effects of films on the youth during the 1920s. Rio is one of the most contemporary takes on animation in films, choosing to talk about not just birds, but the environment, every living creature’s right to freedom and just equality for all living beings.
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The Movie Review
The story follows Blu, a rescued Blue Macaw who is found by a little girl named Linda Gunderson. Over the course of fifteen sweet years, Linda and Blu become the best of pals, and Linda goes to own a bookstore. Blu is now a trained tame Macaw, afraid of flying because he has never even tried to. One day, Linda and Blu are invited to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil to get Blu checked out and to recover his ability to fly. Complications arise as Linda and Blu are separated and constantly sought after by a Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo named Nigel and a gang of smugglers led by a man named Marcel.
Popularly known for Ice Age: The Meltdown and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, director Carlos Saldanha knows his way around making a fun, family animated film for all ages. Rio is no exception in this case, with a hand-picked star-studded cast and some of the most entertaining and well-written characters to breathe life into, Rio was going to be a popular film right from the get-go. What makes Rio such an enthralling romp is not just its super exciting animation and character design, but its excitingly fast pacing, its pitch-perfect comedic timing, and just chock-full of beautiful family-friendly fun. Though I still would’ve preferred more uniqueness to the overall plot, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The story while being pretty fun remains a mediocre adventure that is carried by the exciting animation work and voice acting.
The first thing to talk about is the animation, the use of colors, and the incredibly well-made character designs. The characters move with a ton of fluidity and smoothness between each shot. They are animated so well that at times during the bird scenes, you’d have trouble telling it’s animated at times with the way these characters moved especially considering that the animation is a decade old.
Every single character in Rio feels unique despite essentially just being birds and humans, you can tell them apart just by skimming through the film. From Blu’s perfectly nimble appearance instead of the alpha male Blue Macaw and Jewel’s gorgeously crafted design to Pedro’s whacky design with a bottle-cap hat and Nico’s unique design as well. Every single character looks and feels different and that is why the art in Rio is absolutely gorgeous.
The performances truly enhance the viewership experience for Rio, I would say. Jessie Eisenberg was the perfect choice to play the awkward yet adorable Blu. Whereas Jewel feels like a character written for Anne Hathaway with her ferocity, confidence, and willingness to do anything it takes to be free. Nigel is played by Jemaine Clement, and he is a terrifying, evil, and manipulative character that’s shown that way in all its glory in his performance. All the rest of the characters such as Pedro played by will.i.am, Nico played by Jamie Foxx, Linda played by Leslie Mann, Rafael played by George Lopez and Luiz played by Tracy Morgan are also acted impeccably, with Jamie Foxx and will.i.am providing a HUGE set of comic relief moments to the film.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Rio is an extremely funny and well-animated family film. It has insanely well-done voice acting, and some of the best animation and character designs in a film revolving around animals. However, its story is quite lacking when it comes to actual substance, it brings nothing new to the table and remains very mediocre.