My Junkie buddy Pat Smith asked me to review “RIO”, the new Blue Sky animated feature as a companion piece to his review, which you can read here.
Like Pat, I've got a lot of friends up at Blue Sky. Carlos Saldanak and Chris Wedge have been buddies of mine for a long time, and I've always been fans of their work. One of my favorites was “Horton Hears a Who”, which I believe was one of the best films of the year, if not the decade. And the “Ice Age” series is always one of my favorites.
But to me, “Rio” isn't up to the high standards, and I think the main problem is the story failings. So, I'm not really qualified to talk, but in my opinion, I never really connected with the two romantic relationships. The Moose Falls shop girl and the Brazilian Bird lover, and also the two blue parrots. In Pixar films, the relationships are so interesting and powerful. I believe that Carlos and his writers could have sacrificed a lot of the chasing and delved more into the relationships and character development, and the film would have benefitted mightily. Also, the colors, to me, were too haphazard. In “How to Train Your Dragon”, each emotion and setting had a separate color scheme to match the mood. Here, the colors were all over the place. Just because it's in Brazil doesn't mean that every shot has to include every color of the rainbow.
On the positive side, the movement and animation was excellent. The music was great (although I would have loved to hear the song “Brazil”, as clichéd as it is.)
The dancing birds were terrific and funny, and I did love the action and chase sequences. The film had a great sense of the vibrance and the flavor of Rio de Janeiro during Carnival.
But what do my thoughts count – the film is breaking box office records and will make a pile of money for Blue Sky and Fox. I just wish the suits would keep their meddling little hands out of the creative side. I give Rio a 'B' for its lively charm and humor.