Movie Review: Rio 2 (2014)

Rio 2 movie still

Rio 2 is only half of what its 2011 predecessor was, and no, Bruno Mars did not steal the show

This sequel takes place presumably some time after the first film as Blu and Jewel now have three kids living comfortably in Rio de Janeiro but when their own rare kind is spotted in the Amazon rainforest, Blu has to leave home again, this time with his entire family and friends, to the wild jungle in Jewel’s hopes of finding the Spix’s Macaw tribe. Little did they know that the tribe is her family that she lost before being captured in the first film. Blu once again finds himself in an unfamiliar territory with pressures to readapt and prove himself.

So we all know the main cast with the animals seemingly able to understand all language except monkey’s. I would recommend you to watch the first film, if you haven’t, before catching this one as it should be more emotionally involving when you’re more familiar with the characters. Jesse Eisenberg being very Jesse Eisenberg as Blu, the very Jesse Eisenberg-ish (backbone-less) protagonist and Anne Hathaway being very insignificant as Blu’s other half, Jewel., Jamie Fox, Leslie Mann and George Lopez reprise their roles as the bird and human friends. Jemaine Clement is also back as Nigel, the very same antagonist from the first instalment.

Rio 2 characters meme

Now, as for the new characters, it has Bruno Mars, of course, the most high profile new addition. He voiced Roberto, a talented bird that Blu feels challenged by, but due to poor writing, his behaviour and attitude suddenly changes drastically halfway through the movie. Andy Garcia voiced Eduardo, Jewel’s father and the head of the tribe who tries to turn Blu into a worthy bird. The couple’s three kids are annoying but thankfully they aren’t exactly one of the main focuses in the story (which is strange considering it’s already lacking of cute characters in the franchise to satisfy young and female demands). The one who really steals the show to me is Kristin Chenoweh, who uses her amazing voice as Gabi, the supposedly poisonous frog who’s obsessed with Nigel. The scene where she sings for the first time to the Nigel is just hilariously beautiful, and perhaps the most memorable scene to me.

The visuals, this time in more of a tropical jungle setting, are an obvious improvement in terms of the detailing from the first film. We all know how colour this franchise is but I was more impressed with the mix of sounds in this sequel, particularly with the various voices, the music and effects of the jungle environment. However, not enough elements of the jungle featured to boost the feel of being in the wild.

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Screenwriter Don Rhymer’s passing after a battle with head and neck cancer has proved to be one of the crucial factors of this sequel’s failure to maintain or rise beyond the 2011 predecessor film. The similar type of humour is pretty much still there, plenty of American-culture puns and if you pay attention, you’d even notice a brief Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball music video reference. However, it’s not enough towards the second half, and it’s actually obvious that the creativeness is sadly lacking away, to a point that it seems as though the franchise has suddenly gone to targeting only children.

The storyline is perhaps the biggest let down of the film. Absolutely no attempt being original or at least putting some different onto the table. Typical American family (in the form of birds) goes on a trip, protagonist meets conservative father-in-law and has to impress him by learning the ways of the family while feeling insecure with wife’s former crush/boyfriend around, and we can all easily predict how it’ll end, very much like the first film actually, but with a bit of U.S. propaganda on top. Didn’t we have enough of these already? Moral of the story is another problem with this sequel as it has none that I would approve of.

What I would’ve named the film: “Meet the Parents 4: From Rio to Amazon But Still Very American”

Censorship in Malaysia: Nothing to cut. It’s a clean kids, more so than the first one.

To watch in 3D? Unless you’re a kid, I doubt it’d make that much of a difference in terms of viewing experience. Like the first film, the visuals are not its main strengths, but the audio is, so if you intend to watch it, you might want to catch it at GSC’s Dolby Atmos hall.

Second opinion: My girlfriend pretty much felt the same about the film. To her, it’s a feel good movie, happy to watch, decently funny but too ordinary, too cliched, no surprises.

Verdict: Filled with more tiresome cliches than jokes in an unoriginal plot, Rio 2 is nothing but more than one of those sequels that were made just for the sake of making a sequel. But I believe the kids wouldn’t mind it at all.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Rio 2 movie poster malaysiaRated: U
Genre: Adventure comedy, family animation
Running Time: 101 minutes
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Screenwriters: Don Rhymer, Carlos Kotkin, Jenny Bicks, Yoni Brenner
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jemaine Clement,, Bruno Mars, Tracy Morgan, George Lopez, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Bebel Gilberto, Jake T. Austin & Jamie Foxx

Malaysia Release Date: April 8th 2014
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Studio(s): Blue Sky Studios, 20th Century Fox Animation

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