film review – Rio 2

Rio 2 is the type of animated film that’s only for the youngest of viewers, a movie that’s not concerned with appealing to older children, let alone adults. Its story, if you can even call it that, is undercooked and the reason the movie is somewhat appealing is mostly because of the animation. Rio 2 is the type of movie that gets by on showing you beautiful colors, some cute character designs, and a lush Amazonian setting that’s quite beautifully realized. But even in this department it doesn’t have a wow factor; it all looks good, but there’s nothing that’s really wondrous, that stands out or stays with you. Rio 2, on all fronts, just isn’t a very inventive film, which doesn’t matter to small children, but it’s a problem for, for example, the parents that take them to see the movie.

Rio 2 mostly casts aside the human characters from the first film and focuses on Jesse Eisenberg’s Blu and his family. Which would’ve been a smart decision if they capitalized on it more: Blu and Jewel now have three kids, but these cute little birds are really not utilized to their full potential. Much like most of the characters they don’t get anything interesting to do, apart from the occasional line here and there, which makes their inclusion half-baked and really not serve a purpose. A shame really, since from the movie’s opening moments it’s apparent that these kids are quite endearing and could really be used for some fun slapstick comedy. But that’s Rio 2‘s problem in a nutshell: it just throws stuff in there for the sake of it, without really thinking it through. There’s an abundance of lackluster subplots in the film, all of which really don’t go anywhere or add anything significant to the main story of Blu visiting the Amazon and proving himself to Jewel’s father. As a result Rio 2 is struggling to sustain itself, and doesn’t manage to do so.

The sub-par storylines about a talent show, a bird turf war, the resurgence of an old villain and the evil actions of an illegal logging company only manage to distract from Blu’s journey. He’s a fun and frigidity protagonist, but because of all the clutter he gets sidelined in his own movie. It’s a shame since Jesse Eisenberg once again makes the clumsy bird quite the likeable presence. The only other character that’s really fun to watch is the evil prima donna cockatoo Nigel, voiced by Jemaine Clement, but unfortunately he also gets lost in the jumble. The film also struggles to find a tone: while there are a few chuckles to be had it isn’t very funny, and it isn’t very heartwarming either. Rio 2 also can’t decide if it wants to be a musical or not; much like with anything else the result falls somewhere in the middle. What’s left is a film that’s nicely animated, but one that struggles to compel its viewers, because its story and characters are underdeveloped and will only appeal to the youngest viewers because it looks pretty and it’s got moving pictures.

Rio 2 is a forgettable effort. There’s nothing here that’s memorable or even quite pulls you in. 4/10

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