Rio was a colorful, fun family film that was hit-or-miss on the music, but hit mostly right notes.
Blu was born in Rio but captured by bird hunters and ends up in Minnesota, where he lives the life of a leisurely bird with his owner Linda. An ornithologist from Rio tracks Blu down because he's the last remaining male of his species and they'd like for him to mate with the last remaining female. But when they arrive in Rio, Blu is kidnapped by bird traders who want to sell him for a fortune. Now it's up to Linda to track him down, while Blu is working with some new found friends to try and escape. Will Carnival be a happy one for Blu's Crew?
I hadn't been totally impressed with the trailers for Rio but I really enjoyed the movie. First off, I don't think the 3D added anything to the film, and in fact took away from it. At the theater I was in, the edges of the screen felt blurry and the color was a little dulled. Usually animated 3D is decent so this is the first time I've felt like the 3D reduced my enjoyment of the film. I'd like to see it again in 2D to see how I feel. And most of these animated films don't take full advantage of the 3D to do something with it, to get kids engaged. That being said, I still liked the visuals even if it wasn't as good as it could have been.
At first I wasn't sold on Jesse Eisenberg as the voice of Blu. He felt a little too... what's the word I'm looking for. Screechy? Nasally? Whiny? He grew on me as the movie went on, but I'm still leaning on the idea that they could have found someone better. The rest of the voice cast was really good. I may be the only person who didn't recognize Will.I.Am but I thought he did one of the best jobs as Pedro, one of the birds that helped Blu along the way. For the most part, none of the voices really stood out as being from a particular actor, which I think is always better. The only one that I really heard was George Lopez, who sounds exactly the same no matter what movie he's in.
The story was pretty good, though the set-up was a little strange. To take a bird from Rio, to Minnesota and back to Rio in the span of a few (movie) minutes felt awkward. I wonder if there was a different way to go about it. I guess I understand the need to start the movie with a colorful musical sequence but the opening didn't really add much to the story. It was beautifully done though, as was much of the movie. This is easily the most colorful and rich animated film I've seen. The location of Rio certainly helped since the city is full of rich pageantry, especially around Carnival. Blue Sky, the animation company behind the Ice Age film did Rio and most of the time I find their animation style a little cold and distant, unlike Pixar films which always feel warm and inviting. But with Rio I feel they've turned a corner and could become a serious contender to the Pixar throne. The movie was funnier than I imagined it would be, with a lot of jokes in places where a lot of movies would have turned maudlin. It kept up a really good pace and only slowed down once or twice to make a point. For the most part it was a high-flying adventure with some really fun sequences that the entire family will enjoy. I wasn't a huge fan of the music, but I grew up with the classic Disney songs and really, nothing compares to those.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I really enjoyed Rio. The 3D took away from some of the visual pleasure, but the rich and colorful animation certainly helped overcome everything.