It wouldn’t be Rio if it didn’t have Carnival and once again, director, Carlos Saldanha doesn’t let us down, but this time it’s New Year! The whole gang are back; Blu, Jewel, Nico, Pedro and not forgetting Nigel with a whole host of new chums. After Linda (Blu’s owner) and Tulio find a whole new flock of blue macaws in the Amazon Rainforest, Jewel and Blu take flight with their now five strong family to find out more. On the way Nigel is alerted to their expedition and pursues then in earnest, bent on revenge, after Blu made him flightless in the original film. Along with his trusty new sidekicks Gabi, the poison frog, and Charlie, the docile anteater, they too travel to the Amazon to avenge Nigel’s disability. Chaos and adventure ensue, with Jewel finding her father, Nico and Pedro creating a talent contest, Blu trying his best to impress his new in-laws and some shifty loggers determined to destroy the rainforest.
Rio was rich and colourful but Rio 2 pushes the boundaries even further, looking bigger and more extravagant than ever. The opener dazzles, with a huge party sequence on the Rio De Janeiro sands and makes sure from the outset that this is not going to be a dull ride. As the film drifts from the city to the rainforest each shot is brimming with vibrancy and depth. When we reach the Amazon the colours just explode, with hundreds of new parrots, creatures and exotic locations. Bearing in mind that we meet a whole new flock of blue macaws and a fellow flock of red macaws each one has a personality of their own and are all brilliantly developed to stand out from each other. Nigel and gang and Pedro and Nico’s parallel stories provide some great comedy moments with Jermaine Clement once more becoming the star of the show as Nigel. His sometimes black humour and unhinged personality is a real treat and presents us with some eccentric one liners and a killer new song. Jermaine is back and ready to rock the Amazon.
The musical scores that accompany the glorious visuals, however, are a tad hit and miss. Some songs seem misplaced and don’t really progress the story. Expressing more of the loving moments they slow the story down for no specific reason. On the flip side the more lively scores, coming from 2 local Brazilian percussion bands, match some creative animated sequences involving intense colour and bird dances which quickly become a highlight. A new addition to the cast and music is Bruno Mars, who also takes up his first acting role in the movie playing Roberto, a very dashing old friend of Jewel’s. The character is brilliantly portrayed by Mars and allows Roberto to be a bit more tongue in cheek than an over the top ‘jock’. His character is carefully developed and like most of the other new characters stays away from stereotypical traits and personalities.
A major animation highlight, as in the last film are the action sequences. The guys at Blue Sky are masters of timing and there is no better sequence in the film than the one involving parrot football. A beautifully crafted moment that shows, very elegantly, this bizarre sport. Moves that are expressed here are fluid and effortlessly performed making for a really enjoyable and bizarrely tangible event. On the latter end of the animation scale the downside would have to be the lack of movement from the human characters. The effort and dynamism that has gone into the birds really over shadows the lack of development on the people of the film. Much like the last film there are a lot of static and generic movements to the humans, making them look more like dolls than living breathing homo-sapiens. At times the lip syncing doesn’t do them justice and whilst it may sound like a small detail, and irrelevant to kids, it can drop you out of the film when something doesn’t look 100% plausible
Overall Rio 2 keeps up with the prequels high energy and extravagance and Nigel’s mannerisms and characteristics shine through once more, in my opinion making this movie. It’s certainly the kind of film to leave you feeling happy and full of life and with less puns and more original gags, it’s one that adults and kids can enjoy across the board.
Rio 2 is set for UK release on 4th April 2014.