Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rio 2 - Getting the blues

Blue Sky's CGI sequel brings back most of the cast of its 2011 hit but takes them away from the city splendours and drops them into the depths of the Amazon. A riot of colours and music 'Rio 2' is a decline in many ways of standards set by its predecessor.

An eventful venture

Believing themselves to be the only remaining species of their kind, Spix Macaw Blu, his mate Jewel and their three children have been enjoying the best of what Rio has to offer. They not only flip pancakes like humans but also engage in listening to music in the latest technological devices. When Jewel expresses a desire to venture into the Amazon Blu decides to embark on the task with his family. His friends too join him on this eventful venture.

Meantime Cockatoo Nigel who got sucked into a plane engine in 'Rio' is hot on Blu's trail seeking revenge along with a poisonous dart frog, Gabi, who nurses a tragic and biologically improbable crush on her mentor, and a tamandua called Charlie. Coincidently conservationists, Linda and Tulio who brought Blu and Jewel together are on the tracks of discovering a colony of Spix Macaws. However they stumble upon more than what they have bargained for when they come upon a lollipop sucking logger who intends to raze down the trees which the birds nestle in.

Director Carlos Saldanha has relayed mostly upon his colourful cast in 'Rio' to bring the entertainment back to his latest movie. We get favourites like Rafael the smooth-talking Toucan, Nico the bottle-cap sporting Canary, Pedro the rapping Cardinal and Luiz the dopey, drooling bulldog back in action in 'Rio 2.'

Blu is put in much less impressive light in 'Rio 2'. Not only is his uniqueness of being a rare species taken off him but he also seems totally clueless of the threat posed by both the shady loggers as well as the flightless Nigel for more than half of the movie. Adding insult to injury, the overly civilized Blu cannot seem to go anywhere without his fanny pack even if the environs happens to be the jungle.

The jungle talent show

Unlike 'Rio' its successor is a stereotyped tale. Like many of the recent movies like the 'Ice Age' series in which Manny the mammoth and his partner Ellie discover that they are not the only mammoths left on earth, Blu and Jewel too learn that their ancestors have survived and are living hidden in the depths of the Amazon. Likewise Blu has to prove his worth to Jewel's family in the same manner that Jake and Reggie had to unearth their capabilities in 'Free Birds'.

'Rio 2' is certainly as colourful as its predecessor. There isn't a vibrant hue which has been spared in this animation. It is a feast for the eyes. The spirited journey that Blu, his family and friends make to the Amazon is eye catching. Blu's cultural shock from having to give up ways in the city to adapt to the forest is also aptly displayed in the story. However the filmmakers do not delve deep into the topic to make it an emotionally rich production.

A maniacal sense of humor is found in the jungle talent show in which all sorts of creatures audition to try their luck at joining the carnival. The flying football tournament is another highlight in the movie.

Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx,, Rodrigo Santoro, Jake T. Austin, Tracy Morgan, Bebel Gilberto, Andy Garcia and Rita Moreno have lent their voices for the characters.

Voiced by Kristin Chenoweth, Gabi's character is one of the movie's best new additions. Not only does she bring on the laughs but she generates suspense as well. The tormented song 'Poisonous Love' which she sings to the sleeping Nigel is also highly entertaining. Her character though villainous, does not seem caricatured like her silent companion, Charlie.

Kids would certainly enjoy the comical characters, music and songs but for those who has seen the inimitable 2011 movie, 'Rio 2' is a huge disappointment.

It is time Hollywood animation movie makers came up with more innovative plots. This is more along the lines of 'birds of a feather stuck together'. - Ruwini Jayawardana