Post also available in Portuguese (Brazil)
Written and directed by Carlos Saldanha, that also directed and wrote the first RIO, RIO 2 brings back the spix´s macaw couple Blu (Jesse Heisenberg, THE SOCIAL NETWORK) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES), that now live in the Blu Bird Sanctuary in Rio de Janeiro with their three kids. The adventure begins when Linda (Leslie Mann, PARANORMAN) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro, 300), the birds human friends, may have found new spix´s macaws in the Amazon, and that Blu and Jewel are not the only from their species left. Jewel then convinces Blu to travel through Brazil to reach Linda and Tulio in the rain forest.
The movie has a lot of qualities: great art direction, cinematography and character designs. And let´s not forget the animation itself, where Blue Sky has been excelling movie after movie. The characters shows amazing expressions, and the humor and visual gags are extremelly funny.
When the movie gets it right, it gets it right: the poisonous frog Gabi, voiced by Kristin Chenoweth, and her mexican soap opera style crush on Nigel, the cockatoo, is hilarious; the anteater Charlie, completely inspired by Charles Chaplin´s Carlitos is a delight; the travel sequence from Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon, where the birds quickly visit some famous brazilian cities, following a faulty GPS device; Blu´s fanny pack(?); the new year´s sequence at the beginning of the movie; Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown´s songs… And I can´t forget to mention the most amazing sequence of the movie, that shows Nico (Jamie Foxx, RAY) and Pedro (Will I Am, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) auditioning a bunch of animals of the Amazon forest to take to the Carnaval in Rio… Pay attention to the two capoeira turtles and the rapper sloth. It reminded me of TANGLED, where I was almost pissing my pants after the hilarious tavern sequence.
The problem is that all of these doesn´t seem to be part of a bigger and cleared vision, and only very good moments that were generated during the creative process but never able to work together as a unity. Yes, the script is just a fragile structure that hold everything together, and it only works because each separate part is very good on itself. The bummer is that it´s been happening with Blue Sky´s last movies, with the exception of RIO: ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT is the weaker of all the franchise, EPIC shows jaw-dropping visuals, but the movie unfolds so weakly that it almost kills the experience, and now the same with RIO 2. I hope that THE PEANUTS MOVIE script are being worked right, since the teaser impressed not only for the animation and visual style, but also for the respect for the work of Charles Schultz and Bill Melendez. C´mon, just hearing the Vince Guaraldi music almost made me cry… But I digress.
I was also disappointed with the treatment given to some of the characters. Most of the secondary characters of the first movie, like Nico, Pedro, the toucan Rafael and the dog Luiz has absolutely no function in the story – Fernando, the orphan, only appears in a quick sequence at the beginning of the movie and is not even mentioned after that – the same as Blu´s kids and Jewel´s aunt. They are only comic reliefs, at most, which in a story where Blu already plays this part perfectly, already trying to adapt to a place where he does not belong, is a little too much. Nigel, the evil cockatoo from the first movie, is not a threat to anyone, and also becomes a joke with his nefarious revenge plot. Blu´s human friend, Linda, and husband Tulio, have a bigger part to play in the story, but also show up less than in the first movie.
With all of that, in the end RIO 2 misses the chance of making a really stand-out movie, and is just entertaining. It´s a shame, because I believe the franchise have so much more to offer than this movie did, and I really want to see more of these characters. RIO 2 will be released on american theaters April 11, and I hope it gets a lot of love, so we can see a much better RIO 3.