Monday, April 11, 2011
POSTED BY: Patrick Smith
Rio was a blast, it opened here in Singapore last weekend, and I rushed out to see it. Very fun film, that's the best way to describe it. The fluffy and colorful birds are addictive to look at (especially in 3D, which I love.. yes I said it.. I love 3D), and the antagonist bird, Nigel, is just awesomely scary. The movie can be formulaic at times, but the fact that it's hilarious saves it. No major spoilers in this review btw.
It's hard to fully critique Rio, due to the fact that one of my best friends Karen Disher was head of story.. but I will. So... I wished it had slowed down and concerned itself less with "problems".. there were so many "problems" that one began to forget the main thrust of the story! and often times these problems, or challenges didn't line up to other characters problems or challenges. for example, there is quite a bit of time spent on the two human characters trying to get to a location that has already been vacated by what they were looking for (namely the birds).. as an audience member, the story was complicated and exhausting. Now for all the story problem solving, they forgot to give the main female, Jewel, a REASON to fall for the boy bird, Blu. Blu is a clumsy, un-charming dork.. it's hard to believe ANY girl bird would go for him. His only skill is walking, and climbing with his beak. The hipster clique loves weak male characters, but even in "Social Network" the geek was a Genius. Blu isn't even all that smart.. he reminds me of Miles from "Sideways".. without the knowledge of wine (or anything really). The fact that Blu is a natural dancer ALMOST was a reason for Jewel to fall for him, but he fell short of looking attractive on the dance floor, THEN they ruined even that trace of that attraction by having him proclaim that he hates Samba music! (I think they were going for a "I'm not drinking fucking Merlot" moment). Fortunately, the film was so damn pretty, filled with fantastic and intricate dance and chase sequences, and animated so well, that as a whole, it ends up working.
I know I talk a lot about story, and how it gets in the way, but this is a great example. Movies like Rio lack confidence in their characters, and feel the need to fill up the audiences time with story tricks and clever circumstances that click too nicely into resolutions, right before it's time for ANOTHER little twist or circumstance that .. you guessed it.. works neatly into ANOTHER resolution. They could have been giving us subtle character traits and insights to move a simple story along.. but no, why all the complications?? just tell us a simple story, and let us watch and love the interesting characters!
One other note, something that almost every animated film suffers from.. STOP TALKING SO MUCH.. just stop. these films treat us like we can't figure out even the most basic thing! on the nose dialogue is a plague. matter of fact, dialogue itself is a plague.. it represents writers hijacking of the medium. writers upset me (generally speaking) because they don't think visually enough.. they feel a need to talk.. ALL THE TIME. A film should work with the sound switched off.. all the masters know this. In Rio, the truly great gags and moments are when the characters are not talking.
Again, no doubt this film will do well.. and despite all my ranting, I think it really does work. The songs are great and, again, the gags are LOL.
I give it a B-.. the kiddies will give it an A.
But then again, I loved the Illusionist.. so what do I know.