Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rio [ Movie Review ] ★★ 1/2

The Pitch

The Director of the Ice Age trilogy, Carlos Saldanha is back with another talking animal animation. This time round, it's the topical bird species and the popular Brazil city Rio de Janeiro that's getting the spotlight. Can Carlos Saldanha with a cast consisting of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg,, Jamie Foxx and many others start another successful animation franchise for Blue Sky Studios?

The Plot

Captured at a young age, Blu ( Spix's Macaw, a rare and critically endangered species of the parrot family) had found home at Minnesota. He lives with a loving bookstore owner and pretty much adapted to the domestic lifestyle.

Out of the blue, a scientist drop by and revealed that Blu happened to be the last male of his species and there's a female counterpart waiting for him in Rio de Janeiro. The scientist hoped to bring Blu back to Rio so that the birds could mate and save their species from extinct.

Reluctantly, both Blu and his pet owner agreed to give it a try. But as they reached the conservatory, Blu had an unpleasant discovery that Jewel, the female Macaw is one feisty wild bird who is trying to break out of the lab. Their characters are radically different and Blu was tasked with unfortunate mission to win her heart. Too add on to his woes, the lab was broken in by poachers, kidnapping Blu and Jewel for the lucrative black market sale of exotic rare birds.

Jewel and Blu tired to escape from captivity but it's hard when they were chained together. They were also watched and terrorized by the poacher's cockatoo. To make matter worse, the domestic Blu never learned how to fly. But with some luck and interesting variety of new found friends, Jewel and Blu might just escape the crutches of their captivators and return to their respective home.

The Perspective

Personally my favorite Ice Age movies happened to be the first one and the third one. Incidentally, the only Ice Age movie that Carlos Saldanha didn't share any co-director credits with was the second movie. Ice Age: The Meltdown wasn't bad but it wasn't really memorable (and the only thing that stood out for the movie was the inclusion of Ellie). Rio marks the second solo directorial credit for Carlos Saldanha and personally, Rio is going to be another Ice Age: the Meltdown in times to come.

Rio isn't that bad but it isn't that good either. Like many animation movies out there, Rio is out for the kids and ladies' jugular. Ladies would probably be swoon by how cute the birds are designed. There's plenty of samba type of music and songs from and Jamie Foxx that probably going to rock the Glee generation. Rio is also cashing in on the Angry Birds popularity by featuring some variety of those beloved cutesy birds in this movie.

Those in the targeted demographic might not be that concern with the plots or setup. But for a cranky old man like this reviewer, the predictable and regurgitated story was tedious to sit through. How many times can the shy / useless hero and the beautiful / strong heroine fall in love after initially hating each other? How many times will the villain depends on his useless sidekicks to screw things up to accomplish certain task?

The manner that this films try to endear with it's target audience wasn't gone unnoticed by the seasoned movie goer. As again, the targeted demographics would be eating them up but the "excessive" musical numbers and cutesy characters felt like a poor attempt to cover up a lackluster story. It's just like a showy samba music parade with no heart and direction.

Perhaps it was the frame of mind that I was in when I watched Rio that made me not like this movie so much. I could see how hard it tired to be likeable but somehow it had the opposite effect on me. I guess it will entertain many others but for me, Rio remains as a passable entertainment.

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