Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review of the movie Rio

movie RIO blue talking bird that needs to fly
This is a well written review of the movie Rio a friend of mine wrote. It is published here with permission from the author, and linked to the source at the bottom of this post

So I finally got around to watching the movie Rio, which is a movie I had been wanting to see ever since I first saw advertisements for it.
My excitement was two-fold: First, I love birds...Not much to explain there, I just think birds are awesome. Second, I'm naturally drawn to 3D animated films, due mainly to the sheer amount of possibilities that the particular media opens up for telling a story. There are quite a few things I want to talk about, so I'll just go about them categorically. (I won't outright spoil anything, but there will be clues that you may be able to piece together to reveal some major plot points.)

Premise- Rio is a 3D animated film about a Blue Macaw called Blu (named after the Team Fortress 2 team of the same name) who gets ripped from his happy home in Moose Lake, Minnesota and thrust into the wild jungle of Rio de Janeiro.>Obvious comparisons can be made between Rio and Rango, both of them being 3D animated films released within a month of each other about semi-anthropomorphic animals taken from their domesticated lifestyles and thrown completely out of their element, but that's actually where the comparisons end. Whereas Rango is less of a family movie and more of an adult one, about a guy who finds his calling helping the downtrodden, Rio is a 100% family movie about a guy who learns what it's like to be free while trying to thwart the bad guy and his 2 idiot side-kicks.

Story- As mentioned earlier, Rio is a family movie. Now, family movie isn't the same as "kid movie". I watched it twice in the span of 12 hours, which is a rarity for any movie for me. I was actually very surprised at the roles that humans played in this movie. Of course the villains are human (except for one), but in a movie where the primary characters are animals, there is very rarely any humans having significant supporting roles. Rio is the exception to this. Laura, Blu's owner, gets a lot of screen time, and although she rarely is the one who progresses the plot (usually being one step behind Blu and Jewel), she is given just as much depth and character as anyone else in the film. There's also Tulio, the Brazilian ornithologist, sent looking for Blu, the last male Blue Macaw, in order to...introduce...him to Jewel, a female Blue Macaw, in order to save their species. He's portrayed as a crazy goof that is extremely passionate about his work, to a fault, and while at first you're unsettled by his strangeness, it doesn't take long for him to endear himself to you with his awkward charm.

Visuals- This movie is absolutely stunning, visually. It's beautiful. From the models, to the texturing, to the animation, to the camera angles, everything is pristine. The character models are diverse, and convey their emotions very well. The birds look great, which would be expected, considering they are the primary animals in the movie, but even the animals that only show up once or twice are just as detailed and well constructed. Animation deserves special mention, because even for a mainstream animated film, the animation is gorgeous. Everything is very smooth, and aside from the occasional hovering bird (which they make work), everything is very realistic. They managed to capture the grace of flight, as well as the awkwardness of birds walking, and tie it all in with all the gestures and mannerisms needed to make the characters not only believable, but relatable as well. Even the humans, who, as I said before don't generally get a lot of screen time in animated movies about animals, are diverse and believable.

Music- Music deserves a special mention here, because although it is definitely not a "musical", there are several parts of the movie that are heavily musically oriented. The songs are all very rich, diverse, and catchy. I caught myself rewinding the movie to play them back once they've finished. Beyond that, I don't know what to say. It's hard to describe music.

Criticisms- I find myself having a hard time coming up with criticisms for this movie. Everything about it is very polished, even down to the ending credits sequence. However, nothing is perfect, and there are a few things that I should mention. The "evil" bird is just a bit TOO evil to be believable. He could have used some more depth. It also bugged me that his explanation for how he turned evil and why he's doing this is summed up in a single 30 second song. Even just spending a bit more time on his backstory than just an "I'm evil, and here's why" PowerPoint set to catchy-but-repetitive music would have added to his depth and believability.
The other thing worth mentioning is that there are a few dead spots in the movie. I didn't notice it the first time, but the movie seemed quite a bit shorter the second playthrough, and after going over the movie in my head, I noticed that I mentally skipped over a couple scenes that don't really add to the movie at all. Comparisons could be drawn to the "We're traveling!" scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies, in that they explain things that don't really need explaining in the first place, such as "In between the time that they got on the motorcycle in one place, and got off it in another place, they rode the motorcycle!".

In conclusion, I recommend watching Rio if you get the chance. It's a fun ride, and the best way I've seen birds in a movie.Also, let me know what you think of this write-up. I could make more, if this one is well-received.

RIO Official Movie Site | Bring Home The Party On Blu-ray & DVD

SPECIAL NOTE: Thanks to JM for providing this post! Here is a link to the origin author

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