Back in 2011, we were introduced to the colourful, vibrant, musical event set in the US where Blu (Jessie Eisenberg) a “companion” to pet store owner Linda (Leslie Mann) was the sole surviving Blue Macaw. With his human like instincts and way of living finds himself wound up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he must find the other only living Macaw Jewel (Anne Hathaway) so they can re-populate their species. This became one of the most memorable bird stories told onscreen with a fun and loving journey which also introduced us to characters such as Nico, Pedro, Rafael and Luiz, to mention a few.
Back on the screen 3 years later (with the huge coincidence that the FIFA World Cup is also based in Brazil this year) Blu & Jewel are back with not only a family of 5 but also the rest of the fun loving gang on an adventure to the Amazon where they have discovered more of their kind (Unbeknown to the fact that it’s Jewel’s family running the place).
With Andy Garcia voicing Jewel’s stern father, this is actually reminiscent to the whole Robert De Niro Meet the Parents vibe but with Jesse Eisenberg stepping in for Ben Stiller and Bruno Mars as Owen Wilson. Not only is it a reunion, but the story also bares the important endangerment of the Amazon rainforest. Humans are heading in to cut down trees, forcing the tenants to evacuate and become practically homeless (yes I am still talking about the birds and other animals that live there). So it’s up to Blu and the crew to stand their ground and save what could potentially be their home.
Blu really has a super hard time with not only trying to impress his father in law and save the Amazon, but he’s also got Nigel (remember him?) hot on his trail. With a short reminder served in a flash back sequence, Nigel lost his feathers so has now become a flightless bird. The absence of his wings hasn’t stopped him though, oh no, he’s got himself two sidekicks. A silent anteater named Charlie and a very chatty poisonous frog, Gabbi, voiced by Kristin Chenoweth who is besotted in love with him. Nigel pops up here and there during the film and never gives a dull moment. He’s a real character that you love to hate. He holds so much charisma and character, you just can’t help but to enjoy every second he’s on screen and misses him when he’s not, but not too much though as Blu holds his scenes well. He hasn’t changed one bit. He’s still the same nervously awkward, quick worded, intelligent Macaw we fell in love with in Rio. He also brings along with him (and is attached like a feather on a bird) a fanny Pack with human resources like tic tacks, a knife, GPS tracker, a toilet roll and much more. His awkwardness is just hilarious and something to look forward to. But with all the “wrongs” he occurs, he still has a huge heart with good intentions, especially when it comes to his family.
In a slight competition, we have Roberto (Bruno Mars) also known as “The Bird” on the scene, an old flame for Jewel. He’s got the looks, he’s got the brawn, and he’s also got the voice. What more could a girl ask for? He’s even got hair! Well, its feathers but it looks like hair.
Rio 2 is great in 3D. It really enhances the visuals adding depth to the characters and the Amazon. It felt like you could stick your hand through the screen and hold a bird. Visually, Blue Sky has really stepped up their game. One thing that stood out was the bird’s feathers. It really looked realistic being all full and feathery with that slight fluff around the neck area. Not only did it look great, but the movements of the characters were fantastic. Watching the birds all up in the air dancing, twirling and flying about really was beautiful. The amount of work that must have gone into that to get it perfect should be applauded.
Rio wouldn’t be Rio without an awesome soundtrack. Songs from Jamie Foxx, Will.I.Am, Bruno Mars, Janelle Manae, Jemaine Clement and others make the Rio experience even better. With scores from the first and second, Rio 2 is an adventure not to be missed.
4 out of 5 stars