‘Rio 2’ – Blu-ray Review by Matt Marshall

"Rio 2" (2014) - Blu-Ray Review (Target Exclusive) - We Live Film

‘Rio 2’ Gets Busy in the Amazon

by Matt Marshall

For a film called Rio 2, there’s hardly any screen time in the actual Brazilian metro. Maybe a chance of scenery isn’t so bad after all. When the first film came out in 2011, both Fast Five and Breaking Dawn – Part 1 visited Rio that year as well. Avoiding redundancy, Rio 2 leaves for a colorful trip to the Amazon.

Blue macaw couple, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are living in Rio with their three kids. They’re still under the impression that they’re the last of their species. That is, until Blu’s former owner Linda (Leslie Mann) makes headlines. She and her nature partner Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) believe they’ve stumbled upon more blue macaws deep in the Amazon. Curious to see if it’s true or not, the macaws set out for a new adventure.

Rio 2 is far from being a simplistic family outing. Returning director Carlos Saldanha helms the film with more ambition that the previous. But there’s a fine line between ambition and going overboard. With its abundance of unnecessary subplots, Rio 2 can be labeled the latter.

This Amazonian road trip does undermine the importance of Blu and Jewel coming together in the first time. Still, it allows this franchise to spread its wings for new opportunities. These new opportunities come in new characters like Jewel’s long-lost father (Andy Garcia) and her suave childhood friend (Bruno Mars).

SEE ALSO:  The Lego Movie: Everything is Awesome Edition – Blu-ray Review by Matt Marshall

The screenplay turns this into a run-of-the-mill Meet the Parents scenario. In a sense, Blu has donned Ben Stiller’s cap from the film. He has to not only prove himself  to Jewel’s father, but contend with Mars’ charm. Blu continues to embarrass himself time and time again. Two films in and he’s still struggling with the whole fish out of water concept. His neurotic personality and domesticated tendencies don’t win over old dad either. However, Eisenberg is a solid fit voicing Blu, borrowing from previous performances in The Social Network and Now You See Me.

While Blu struggles to find his place in the flock, there’s plenty more happening. Linda and Tulio are fighting off generic evil loggers. Enter a shoehorned “save the environment” message that comes in and out. Nigel the cockatoo from the last film in all his Shakespearean glory seeking revenge on Blu. He’s paired up with Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, voicing a poisonous frog.

Where Rio 2 lacks with its overstuffed storytelling, it makes up with its signature jukebox from the first film. With a mix of original songs and covers of “I Will Survive,” Rio 2 is a fun little film to sing-along to. Chenoweth, Mars and Jermaine Clement bring the most out of the soundtrack outside of Janelle Monae’s “What is Love.”

The music combined with eye-popping visuals is the perfect smokescreen to handle the film’s shortcomings. The CG choreography during the music sequences is to be commended for its Broadway inspiration. Once the number’s over we go back to one of the many subplots threaded in. Older audiences may have reservations for Rio 2, but the visuals and music should be enough to captivate the younger ones.

Rio 2 doesn’t fly to new heights with its derivative storytelling. It still finds a way to step it up from the last one, even if that means leaving Rio behind.

"Rio 2" (2014) - Blu-ray Review - Target Exclusive - We Live Film

Video

From Rio to the Amazon, Rio 2 is a film of explosive colors. Fox Home Entertainment certainly does the film justice for the most part. The human characters are the least convincing.

Audio

Rio 2’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7. 1 surround track benefits best from the film’s list of musical numbers. Dialogue and sound effects are both clearly distinctive and mixed with precision. It’s a shame more sounds weren’t incorporated into the original track. The plenty of opportunities to offer audience a more immersive trip down to South America. For what Rio 2 had to work with, the transfer to home media is fine.

Special Features

Rio 2′s supplements are aimed at younger audiences. With less than 45 minutes of additional content, there’s little highlighting the behind-the-scenes of the film. At a brief 38 seconds, the deleted scene is entertaining and should have been left in the film. “What is Love” is the other highlight, though it is just a portion of the original song.

  • Rio Refresher – Catch up on the last movie before watching Rio 2.
  • Deleted Scene – Nigel’s practice gets interrupted before the climax.
  • Boom, Shake, Snap: The Local Sounds of Brazil 20 minutes of featurettes highlighting the local sounds.
  • Birds and Beats: The Singing Talents of Rio 2 – 10 minute featurette about the film’s voice talent.
  • Nigel the Shakespearean Cockatoo and Friends – Villainous Nigel is highlighted with a tour of Blue Sky Studios.
  • Music, Dance, Sing-Along Machine – A fun interactive way to watch Rio 2. 
  • You Be the Judge Auditions – Characters audition for Amazon Untamed from the film.
  • “What Is Love” Lyric Video by Janelle Monae – An abridged version of one of the film’s key songs.
  • Still Gallery – Photos from Rio 2.
  • Almost Home Teaser Short Short film shown in theaters to promote Home. 

Verdict

Rio 2 is a visually beautiful and fun at times to groove to. Still, with everything but the kitchen sink in this sequel, younger audiences may feel slightly overwhelmed. 

  • Movie: B- (7/10)
  • Video: A- (9/10)
  • Audio: A- (9/10)
  • Special Features: C (5/10)

Grade: B (8/10) – Recommended

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