Rio sucks you in from the opening moments. You don’t have to have been to Rio to appreciate the impeccable work of the animation team behind Rio and the marvel that is their creation. The film opens with a spanning shot of Sugarloaf and eventually a pull-back past the beaches into the jungle. It’s as real as being there and that is only the beginning of how Rio rocks.
The Rio director is the man responsible for the Ice Age films. Carlos Saldanha scores again, not only with plot and visuals, but with innate passion. Saldanha is a Rio resident and as such, he’s given global audiences a window into the rare world that is the city of Rio.
He has assembled a cast of champions, led by The Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg. Fresh off his Oscar nomination, Eisenberg charms as the rare blue macaw named Blu. During Rio’s first moments, Blu loses his parents and winds up being caught by poachers seeking to send him to North America to serve as a pet.
Lucky for Blu, he lands in the care of Linda (Leslie Mann). The two are best friends until a scientist from Brazil arrives with unbelievable news: Blu is one of two blue macaws left in the world. The other is named Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and is currently in captivity in Rio. Off we go!
As a piece of art, Rio is riveting. The color palette the Fox animation animators cull from is mesmerizing. Rio is in 3D. Many wonder if 3D has run its course lately. With the Born to be Wild documentary and Rio in 3D, 3D for families is in good hands with each film scoring on the visual wizardry.
Not only does Will.i.am star in the film alongside Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, Hathaway and Eisenberg, he provided much to the Rio soundtrack. Working with executive music director and local Brazilian legend Sergio Mendes, pop stars such as Will.i.am and Taio Cruz pay tribute to Rio in song and each meets the challenge.
The message is profound for any generation. Regardless of where we come from, the idea that flight is attainable, regardless of your life path, is inspiration bottled. See, Blu cannot fly. On more than one occasion while in Rio, taking flight would have helped immensely. The large arc question is when will Blu figure out how to fly and will it be soon enough to save Jewel and him from quickly approaching poachers.
Rio is also a celebration of a city. Brazil’s showcase city is thousands of miles away for most of the world. In Saldanha’s film, he effervescently captures a city at its finest, underbelly and all.
Out of five stars…