Light as a feather
Colourful and breezily light, but overloaded with the usual clichés and tropes, Rio 2 is one for the kids.
I’LL be terribly honest here – Rio was one of the last animated features I expected to get a sequel.
It’s not that the first movie was bad – in fact, I remember it having a relatively decent story about a bird that can’t fly, and also being quite entertaining as well. I just don’t remember anything about it other than that.
Directed by Carlos Saldanha (who also directed the first film), Rio 2 is the first sequel by Blue Sky Studios outside of their hugely successful Ice Age franchise, and features the original voice cast of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, and Jake T. Austin.
The movie takes place not long after events in the first movie, with Blu (Eisenberg) having settled down with Jewel (Hathaway) and started a little family of what was thought to be the last of the world’s population of Spix’s Macaws.
When their human friends Tulio (Santoro) and Linda (Mann) accidentally discover that there might be more Spix’s Macaws left in the Amazon, Jewel convinces the domesticated Blu to take a trip into the jungle to search for the survivors of their species.
Little do they know that there is also an illegal logging operation near the Spix’s Macaws’ habitat, whose boss will stop at nothing to keep a secret.
Unfortunately, Rio 2 is even less memorable than the first one, which at least had some originality going for it. This sequel however, is so loaded with the usual animated feature tropes and clichéd jokes that it took a full 20 minutes before it managed to entice a chuckle from this jaded journalist.
Continuing the trend from the first film, music plays a huge part in this movie, and some of the best parts of the movie were the catchy song-and-dance routines, which were enhanced by the voices of real-life musicians like Bruno Mars, will.i.am and Jamie Foxx.
However, at one point it felt like there was just too much music, which made the movie seem like a very, very long montage of music videos in the end. Yes, the animation was fabulous (the dancing birds bits and the football match were especially impressive), but after the third song or so, the formula started to get a little tired.
It also doesn’t help that the animation of the human characters somehow seemed unnatural and clunky when compared to the avian ones, especially in the early carnival scenes in which the human characters danced as if their limbs were made of clay, while the birds flowed fluidly from one dance routine to another.
A subplot featuring Blu’s nemesis from the first film Nigel (Clement) as an aspiring Shakespearean actor out for revenge also seems as though it was shoehorned in, as if they needed something else to pad up the parts of the movie that did not involve singing or dancing.
Rio 2 is not a bad movie per se – it’s just a rather ordinary sequel of a movie that probably didn’t really deserve a sequel in the first place. With its colourful characters and locations and catchy music sequences, this is one animated feature that is definitely one for the kids.