They liked it so much, Blu and his Jewel fly away to Rio again... taking the highly urbanised kids with them. Surprise for the family – they spend much of this adventure in the Amazonian jungle.
Rio 2 is also a very happy film, happy characters – and Nigel turning up again. The film comes from the studios which produced the Ice Age films, so with these and the Rio films, a very good record for producing entertaining animation, popular with audiences. The animation style is very vivid, very bright colours, cheerful in themselves, well delineated characters, mostly birds, with some other eccentric animals and a range of humans, the sympathetic conservationists Linda and Tulio and the big boss and his squad of loggers with their heavy machines, sawing and dragging down the trees in the Amazon.
In fact, very little of the action takes place in Rio. Rather, we are mostly in the Amazon, not only with Blu, Jewel and their offspring but with a huge flock of blue birds – and some rival bright red birds on the opposite side of the gorge, all territorial, because of the scarcity of Brazil nuts.
While the birds generally get on well together, their rivalry is tested in a battle, a kind of aerial soccer match, a Brazil nut Quidditch action game. This confrontation, along with a massed attack by blue birds on loggers and drivers, with the red birds joining in the action, are the main adventurous parts of the plot. The film pokes fun at the urbanisation of Blu and his family, the children knowing how to open a Brazil nut by opening the can, relying on their television and their iPads.
It is obviously time that they went back to their roots and found other blue birds, which they did not know existed, and discover their true selves. It is not difficult for Jewel who discovers her father, Eduardo, the patriarch of the blue birds.
The children settle into the outdoor life.
But, it is rather hellish for Blu, still relying on his GPS, and who is dismissed disdainfully as 'a human pet.' Unwittingly, he contravenes the boundaries - which sets up the need for the competitive aerial battle – and, even then, as he goes to the rescue, he makes a mistake putting him even further on the outer.
Nigel is in pursuit of Blu, but with a new assistant enamoured of him, Gabi, a rather sassy frog. They stumble upon auditions for a concert and the film pauses for some minutes while Nigel is invited to sing and he does a show-stopping version of I Will Survive. Nigel and Gabi eventually get tangled in the bird-attack on the loggers.
Characters from the first film are back again, all with entertaining supporting roles. It is the voice cast which is very good. Jesse Eisenberg was Blu in the first film and he is very much at the centre of this one.
Eisenberg has one of the most distinctive ways of delivering lines in films at the moment, a kind of stammering, hesitant, gawky, which has served him well for many roles, even for Mark Zuckerberg and the establishing of Facebook. He is perfect as Blu.
Anne Hathaway is more generic as Jewel but Andy Garcia obviously relishes the opportunity to be the stern patriarch, Eduardo. Leslie Mann and Rodrigo Santoro are Linda and Tulio. Jamie Fox and Will.I.am are the two friends, and Miguel Ferrer is the voice of the Big Boss.
Rio to is as entertaining as its original. (Except for a warning that logging warriors in, say, Tasmania, might feel under siege from these birds.)
- Reviewed by Fr Peter Malone MSC, an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Rio 2, voiced by Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia, Jermaine Clement, Jamie Foxx, Will.I. am, Rita Marino, Kristin Chenoweth, Rodrigo Santoro, Tracy Morgan, George Lopez. Directed by Carlos Saldhana. Fox. Rated G. 99 minutes. Showing now.