19 Tracks/Disc Time: 53:00
(BEST OF 2014)
After the major blockbuster success of "Rio" back in 2011, it was a no brainer that sequel had to be done by Blue Sky Studios and Twentieth Century-Fox. Three years later, "Rio 2" has emerged featuring the same voiceover cast from the original film that includes the likes of Jessie Eisenberg ("The Social Network"), Oscar Winner Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables"), Leslie Mann ("This Is 40"), Oscar Winner Jaime Foxx ("The Amazing Spider-Man 2"), Kristin Chenoweth ("RV"), Jermaine Clement ("Men In Black 3"), George Lopez ("George"), Tracy Morgan ("30 Rock"), Rodrigo Santoro ("300") and singer Will.I.Am. This time they're joined by the voice talents of Andy Garcia ("The Godfather Part 3"), Rita Moreno, John Leguizamo ("Ice Age") and hit singer, Bruno Mars. The film takes place in the Amazon jungle this time around as Blu (Eisenberg), Jewel (Hathaway) and their three kids after they're hurtled Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel (Clement), and meets the most fearsome adversary of all: his father-in-law (Garcia). The film should be a major hit with both kids and adults as the original was.
Also returning after a long break is renowned composer John Powell, who was on a major hot streak of composing projects that included a well deserved Oscar nomination for "How To Train Your Dragon" and other hit films, including the original "Rio", writing a fun and captivating score that featured the likes of great Brazillian musicians such as pianist and songwriter Sergio Mendes and percussionist Carlinhos Brown that brought a fun and cheery atmosphere that channeled Brazil. This sequel score continues those wonderful ideas and expands them even further as the locale has changed a bit, but Powell really keeps the high energy and fun spirit of the original completely in tact while creating an original expansive work that make both scores as a whole, a grand Brazillian opera.
The album gets off to a rocking start with the very spirited "Batacuda Pagode", a wonderful and energetic piece that features a party like atmosphere that just oozes Brazil! I love this track and what it also establishes the main theme to the score and later on would make a more subtle and romantic version in gorgeous track "Riverboat To The Loggers", which features a beautiful guitar solo and features a great Brazilian chorus that is pretty much in keeping with the fun atmosphere. The score is full of lyrical and melodic moments such as "Over The Falls", "Traveling Family", and "Tantrums Lead To Explosions" that features the original main theme from the first film to great dramatic effect. Powell also has his playful animated moments included as the original film with touches of the romantic and fun material from the original film included in "Breakfast In Rio", "Fireworks On The Roof", "Spider Invite", "Lollipops Are Bad For You" and "Tongue-Apualt To Blu's Nightmare", that vary in the range of orchestrational fun by Powell, utilizing alot of what made the original film such a fun and exciting listen.
Sony Classical's album is a fun one and pretty lengthy which is always a good thing with scores such as this one. Powell has really emerged as the number one animation composer for the past six years and it is definitely a genre he really feels most comfortable with. It's become a strong suit of his and one that will always stand out in his career. The albums excellent sound really does showcase the great Hollywood Symphony Orchestra as well as the soloists to a perfect degree that it really is a colorful, layered work. "Rio 2" is not a perfect score, but it really is alot of fun and an excellent follow up to the original and if there's a "Rio 3", I hope that John Powell will be there once again to join in on the fun! Highly recommended and fun! Thumbs up!