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Rio - Review

RIO

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

CARLOS Saldanha’s Rio might just be the most colourful animated film of all-time. But while it often dazzles visually, the generic nature of its story sometimes makes it feel a little dull.

Designed as a love letter to the city the director grew up in, Rio is nevertheless a rich visual treat that should enthral viewers of every age. It’s quite often beautiful to watch.

The story follows a neurotic macaw named Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), who is whisked from the comfort of his adopted home in snowy Minnesota to the carnival atmosphere of Brazil in the hope that he’ll successfully mate with a female bird named Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and save his species.

The trip goes badly wrong, however, when he and Jewel are stolen and left to fend for themselves in the surrounding forests of Rio – a situation made more perilous by the fact that Blu cannot fly.

For the most part, Saldanha’s film has plenty to recommend it, from the slick visual set pieces that seek to enhance the 3D experience to the songs and characters that provide lively support.

Eisenberg, too, proves a masterful piece of voice casting, lending Blu a genuinely endearing persona that combines awkwardness with determination and a funny sense of humour. The film takes flight whenever it’s in his company.

Strong, too, are the supporting likes of Jemaine (Flight of The Conchords) Clements’ wonderfully wicked cockatoo (a great villain) and Tracy Morgan’s drooling bulldog, who should go down a storm with the kids.

But part of Rio’s problem perhaps lies in its attempts to pack too much in, with some of the supporting players feeling superfluous to the smooth flow of proceedings (Jamie Foxx, Will.i.am, take note) and therefore depriving the really great characters enough of the film’s focus.

The story, too, trades on the well-worn idea of a family being broken up and reunited, as well as the sense of finding one’s true calling. Some of its messages do feel laboured.

Yet, for all of its flaws Rio should still capture the hearts of its youngest viewers, while providing plenty of spectacle for their grown-up minders.

Certificate: U
Running time: 95mins
UK Release Date: April 8, 2011