Rio is the tale of a blue macaw heading back to his homeland where he discovers his roots long since forgotten while Angry Birds Rio takes the same macaw, named Blu, into a world where flinging birds is a joy and necessity to save those he cares for. Sounds odd but don’t think too much about this latest crossover of feature film and mobile game. The film is superbly animated while the game takes the Angry Birds formula and creates a unique take on the films story. Let’s take a closer look at the film then chime in on some Angry Birds.
Story – How does a blue macaw, the last of his kind, end up in Moose Lake, Minnesota? Illegal smugglers is how and this is how the last of his kind blue macaw named Blu ends up with Linda, his owner and friend since the time he was a wee little bird. After fifteen years a Brazilian ornithologist named Tulio visits explaining Blu is the last of his kind and he, along with Linda, are needed in Rio de Janerio to help bring back the species with the last female macaw named Jewel. Before things can ‘happen’ Jewel wraps Blu into her escape plan and a group of smugglers target the duo for their value. Nigel, a psychotic cockatoo helps in the abduction and the hunt is now on. Both Linda and Tulio search the city but the crowds for carnival impede their progress while Blu and Jewel must navigate around without Blu knowing how to fly. Will the two be freed? Will the smugglers win and will Blu ever learn to fly? All answers will take place in Rio.
Kills not being able to tell more of the story but that would be to spoil it. The intro to Rio sets up Blu’s back-story quite well and gets viewers to know his relationship with Linda fairly quickly. This smoothly transitions into the trip to Brazil where the bird napping happens and the story kicks into gear. Relationships are developed and a fun cast of characters makes it all click. Rio is fun and happy mixing comedic bad guys with likeable avian.
Animation and Art Style– Animated films such as Rio have become the norm replacing the days of hand drawn features and the level of detail has skyrocketed. Rio offers a blending of humans and animals that most films avoid as the focus is on one or the other. Rio adds a level of detail that is amazing to see from the detail of Blu’s claws to the individual feathers. The birds sport realism yet have personality as Blu is an awkward bumbling shut-in while Jewel is feisty and independent. The slums of Rio also sport realistic details and the humans living in this world come in all shapes and sizes and remind very much of The Incredibles in design. Besides the characters and slum settings the actual carnival parade is amazing to behold with vivid colors and amazing music that is just so Brazil. The character design style is familiar but the merging of detailed and personality driven humans and animals really makes Rio shine (the flying scene around the Jesus statue, very cool and shows great detail and scale in the city of Rio de Janeiro).
Voice work and Music– Samba never sounded or looked so good. The sounds of carnival, the music of the land, samba, is alive and well and hooks in the viewer which is a good thing. Why? Because the character driven songs are forgettable. There are some interesting fusions of hip-hop and South American sounds but overall the music is so-so. The voice acting is quite solid with famous names such as Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway and George Lopez. Nobody really stands out but it’s an overall group that knows and performs their roles quite well. Jamie Foxx and Will i Am are good together but just not on screen enough.
Angry Birds – Angry Birds Rio takes the bird flinging action and replaces pigs with monkeys and birds in cages waiting to be freed. There are six levels composed of 90 stars each with hidden awards and trophies. To date there is Smugglers’ Den, Jungle Escape, Beach Volley and Carnival Upheaval. Each brings in the look and feel of the film with both Blu and Jewel helping out with unique dynamics to themselves. The signature Angry Birds look meshes with that of Rio for a unique Angry Birds experience. Great sound also accompanies this package which could have cashed in with a clone of the movie but instead went that extra few miles to create a solid gaming experience that is on par if not surpassing both the original Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons.
Overall, Rio delivers the goods. It’s a great family film that mixes incredible animation, a great story and characters with solid music and a game tie-in that expands the experience. Rio and Angry Birds work well together, or separate, it’s a can’t miss.