Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Will i Am, Tracy Morgan
Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
Written by: Carlos Saldanha, Earl Jones, Todd Jones, Don Rhymer, Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, Sam Harper
Runtime: 96 min
Release Date: 8/2/2011 (Blu-Ray)
HTS Overall Score:91
Blu (Eisenberg) is the last male of his species (the blue macaw) and lives in a small town in rural Minnesota with his owner Linda, where he enjoys all the luxuries of a pampered pet. Blu is so used to the life of a pet that he can’t even fly, let alone imagine himself as a bird from South America, but when Tulio, a Brazilian ornithologist shows up at Linda’s door, Blu is completely unprepared. Tulio begs Linda to bring Blu to Rio de Janeiro so that he can mate with the last female of his kind, Jewel and save his species.
When Linda reluctantly agrees, Blu finds himself in Rio face to face with the spunky but beautiful Jewel (Hathaway) who has no intention of mating with Blu. Jewel only wants to escape the cage Tulio has placed her in, and she expects Blu to escape with her. Unfortunately, before they can escape Blu and Jewel are stolen by bird poachers and find themselves in a race against time to escape before they are shipped overseas.
The product of the same minds that brought us the Ice Age films, Rio is full of the same zany humor and some of the same heartfelt message, but never quite manages to match up to competitors in the animated film genre. Don’t get me wrong, Rio is a very entertaining and often funny film, but Rio is far less memorable than Ice Age, or many of its Pixar counterparts; as the saying goes, often good but rarely great. The premise is brilliant, and the scenery is stunning, but Rio never truly connects with the audience the way that it could have. The supporting cast is obviously present for comedic value, and they deliver, unfortunately this isn’t enough to overcome the unexciting interplay between Hathaway and Eisenberg which seems like it was hastily written.
Rio is a great family film and is sure to please the younger than 10 crowd. Unfortunately, I can make no such guarantees for the adults. Perhaps the most brilliant part of films like Shrek and many Pixar titles is their ability to cater to both audiences – Rio unfortunately aims squarely at the youngsters and largely ignores those of us who want a compelling story and multi-dimensional characters. Despite these flaws, Rio is still a worthy rental for family movie night and I expect most of you will be fairly pleased – even if the end result for most of us is rather forgettable.
For all the imperfections in the story telling and character development in Rio, there’s very little to gripe about when it comes to the visuals. Rio is stunning, bright, sharp and insanely three dimensional, even in 2D. It’s hard not to be impressed by a film that manages to use more of the color palette in 90 minutes than half your collection combined. Yes, Rio really is that colorful, and it’s not a criticism. The vibrant almost surreal colors of Rio in the midst of carnaval are spectacular to behold and really showcase the quality of your display. Throughout my viewing of the film I didn’t notice any aberrant digital artifacts; in fact the whole film was free of DNR, banding and aliasing. Inky blacks combined with excellent shadow detail make for stunning night scenes with plenty of detail and contrast as shadow gradation is clearly preserved.
Rio comes to Blu-Ray featuring a DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix that showcases plenty of great samba music and great sound design. The film isn’t aggressive when it comes to use of the LFE and surround channels but none the less is an engaging and entertaining listening experience. Scenes in the rainforest surrounded by birds and trees feature copious amounts of crystal clear surround detail as birds chirp and the melody begins to play and the raucous samba melodies throughout keep the viewer entertained while also creating a great mood. Dialogue is crystal clear and free of any sibilance or veiling resulting in a clearly understood and rich center channel. While the bass used in the film is sparse, it is authoritative and well balanced to the overall mix. This is a great audio track that compliments the video wonderfully and I highly recommend a listen if only for the excellent music.
Rio comes to Blu-Ray with a solid list of extra content that is in HD. Unfortunately, some of the "extra" content is rather pointless and seems to be there simply to make the list look longer.
- Deleted Scene - "Fruit Stand" [HD] 1:29
- Explore the World of Rio [HD])
- Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time [HD] 24:49
- The Making of Hot Wings [HD] 8:02
- Boom-Boom Tish-Tish: The Sounds of Rio [HD] 13:30
- Carnival Dance-o-Rama [HD]
- "Welcome to Rio" Music Video [HD] 1:37
- Tiao Cruz - "Telling the World" Music Video [HD] 1:54
- Rio De Jam-Eiro Jukebox [HD] 8:34
- Postcards from Rio [HD]
- The Real Rio [HD] 9:31
- Theatrical Trailer [HD] 2:26
- Angry Birds Rio [HD]
- BD-Live Exclusive - "The Acting Animators" [HD] 3:38
- Digital Copy
- DVD copy of the film
You may think from my review of the movie itself that I hated Rio. Quite the contrary in fact – I really enjoyed Rio and the gratuitous sensory overload that accompanied it, but hoped for a little bit more from the acting and storytelling side. Rio is a good movie that had the potential to be truly great and I can’t help but suspect that a hastily written script or insufficient rewrites somehow prevented this film from reaching its true potential. Despite these quibbles, Rio is a wild, fanciful, vivid adventure that combines gorgeous visuals with a memorable aural experience. Viewers of all ages are sure to be delighted by the experience that is Rio, especially my videophile friends here at Home Theater Shack. Recommended.