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Blu-ray Review: 'Rio 2'

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The Film:

2011’s “Rio” was a fun animated adventure that was entertaining for both kids and adults, featuring gorgeous animation, excellent vocal work, and a few solid laughs along the way. It wasn’t without its share of problems, including a number of unnecessary musical sequences, but overall it had made for an enjoyable experience. With its massive global success at the box office, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that a sequel was thrown together as quickly as possible in hopes of producing another smash hit.

So here we are three years later catching up with everybody’s favorite Blue Macaws, Blu (Voice of Jesse Eisenberg) and his mate, Jewel (Voice of Anne Hathaway), who now live happily in Rio with their three kids and all of their friends. When Blu’s former caretakers believe they may have discovered more Blue Macaws in the Amazon, Jewel decides that they should fly over and see if it’s true. When they arrive, they discover that not only is there a large colony of them, but a few of them are actually Jewel’s family, including her father and aunt. Meanwhile, several problems arise, including an old enemy from Blu’s past seeking revenge, loggers looking to destroy the forest, and Blu’s difficulty fitting into the jungle environment, all of which could ultimately ruin their joyful homecoming.

Rio 2” does share a couple of quality elements with its predecessor. Once again, the film is beautifully animated, taking full advantage of its tropical setting and characters to deliver a dazzling array of colors. Also, the impressive vocal cast does a great job of revisiting their characters. Unfortunately, that’s where the positive qualities end, as this time around, the fun and entertainment of the original is nowhere to be found, replaced instead with a rushed and overstuffed plot which leads to a film that tries to reach out in so many directions that it ends up getting nowhere.

All at once the film wants to be about our heroes finding their true home, Blu’s attempts to fit into the group, Jewel reconnecting with her family, a logger trying to stop Blu’s former caretakers from discovering his operation, Nigel trying to get revenge on Blu, a poisonous frog that has a crush on Nigel, a territorial dispute between the Blue Macaws and their neighbors, and Blu’s friends trying to set up an act for Carnival. Seems a little crowded, no? To make matters worse, it compounds the main problem of the first film by having a multitude of pointless musical numbers, which, when added to what’s already here, only serves to make the film even more jam-packed.

With four writers working on the screenplay, this was probably just the simple problem of having too many cooks in the kitchen, with everyone trying to contribute too many ideas into one film. With the theme of family being the most prevalent, if the writers had focused solely on that, it would have made for a much better, and far less cluttered, film. Of course, a little conflict would be welcome, so the logger storyline could have been used when needed, and the completely irrelevant Nigel storyline excised entirely. There were so many ways to execute this project better, using only a couple of these storylines, but sadly we basically end up getting enough for two or three films in a sequel that includes everything but the kitchen sink.

In the event that a third film is made, and let’s face it, it’s very likely, let’s hope that they take their time to develop a more focused plot that will give the important elements a chance to breathe and the characters a chance to shine once more instead of being pulled in a dozen different directions at once. The first “Rio” had been a delight, but all that “Rio 2” has proved is that sequels can’t be rushed, or else they’re bound to turn into sloppy messes like this.

Video/Audio:

“Rio 2” comes to Blu-ray is a gorgeous 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that allows the stunning and vivid colors of the animation to look their best. Every frame is perfectly sharp, making for some of the best picture quality I’ve seen in a while. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is of excellent quality as well, giving you all elements (including those pointless musical numbers) in perfect clarity. Overall, you could hardly ask for better in either department.

Special Features:

  • Rio Refresher
  • Deleted Scene
  • Boom, Shake, Snap: The Local Sounds of Brazil
  • Birds and Beats: The Singing Talents of Rio 2
  • Nigel the Shakespearean Cockatoo and Friends
  • Music, Dance, Sing-Along Machine
  • You Be the Judge Auditions
  • “What is Love” Lyrics Video by Janelle Monae
  • Still Gallery

Unfortunately, most of these extras are aimed at the kids in the audience and include superficial looks at the music and characters. There’s also one 40-second deleted scene included that merely makes you wonder, with the great number of scenes that needed to be cut from the film, why was this tiny portion the only one cut out? In fact, the only thing here that’s even remotely worth taking a look at is the still gallery, which includes some amazing concept art for the film. Other than that, there simply isn’t much here to see.

Conclusion:

“Rio 2” is a beautifully animated, but overcrowded, sequel that tries to do too much in one film. With such a frenzied plot, there’s not enough time to give any of these storylines the proper amount of focus, leading to a film that just doesn’t know what it wants to be about. A sequel certainly wasn’t a bad idea, but one gets the feeling that they were told that this would be it for the series, causing them to put all of their ideas in a blender and hope for the best. As anyone could have told them, this was a terrible idea, which is why we’re left with a film that’s nothing but a mishmash of storylines that never comes together.

Score: 2.5/5

Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting today.

Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Under the Skin, Open Grave, Deadly Eyes, Jodorowsky's Dune, Lake Placid, Nymphomaniac, Afflicted, House of Cards: Season Two, The Lego Movie, Ernest & Celestine, 13 Sins, Joe, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Tim's Vermeer, Alan Partridge, RoboCop (2014), Alexander: The Ultimate Cut, Ravenous, Son of God, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection, Stalingrad, The Monuments Men, Pompeii, 3 Days to Kill, Grand Piano, Her, Orange is the New Black: Season One, I, Frankenstein, Final Exam, Evilspeak

Now playing in theaters: How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.

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