|Still from RIO|
The Creator of Ice Age, Carlos Saldanha, has done it again - this time in 3-D with his latest Animated Feature, RIO. Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is a rare Macaw Bird, who has been domesticated by his Owner Linda (Leslie Mann) in Minneapolis after she had found him in a box rolled-off a truck. Upon having it brought to her attention by Ornithologist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) that Blu's species is in danger of becoming extinct, he and Linda make their way to Rio de Janero, where he is to mate with beautiful and free-spirited Jewel (Anne Hathaway).
Before long, both Blu and Jewel are kidnapped by a team of greedy Poachers. They are terrorized by tyrannous Watch Bird Nigel (Jemaine Clement), but manage to escape. One catch though - Blu does not know how to fly and after having been captured, both he and Jewel are bound together by chains. Together they find themselves on the wildest adventure of their lives with the help of their Friends Rafael (George Lopez), Nico (Jamie Foxx) and Pedro (will.i.am) who protect them from the Poachers and Nigel. Will Blu and Jewel manage to stay free of their Captors? Will Linda and Blu ever unite again? And above all, will this species of Blue Macaw birds become extinct forever?
On the rare occasion, I take the time to review an Animated Feature as admittedly it isn't a favourite genre of mine. RIO however, truly exceeded my expectations through and through. Visually, it is a spectacle with enough vivacity, depth and detailing to make any Brazilian proud to call this Film their own - even with all the Urban North American-isms found throughout its Script. RIO's multi-layered story line is told clearly and the heart it possesses underneath it all is palpable. Its ambition to educate our Children on the dangers of Extinction is expressed and understood, while packaged in the universality of a Love Story between a Bird and his Owner, and also that Bird and another.
If there was any doubt of Blu's visceral appeal as a Hero, a Child attending my Screening in tears had cried out "Blu!!!!!" as the Macaw had to fight his biggest challenge yet against his Captors. My general rule of thumb is that Children rarely lie and perhaps that Child's sentiments also could be felt throughout the Theatre, although suppressed by the inhibitions that come with Age.Eisenberg and Hathaway are pitch-perfect in their leading roles, but particularly scene-stealing is Tracy Morgan's Luiz, a drooling Bulldog who delivers the laughs. 20th Century Fox's RIO is magnificent on many levels and surely is only the beginning of a successful Franchise. It opens in theatres on Friday, April 15, 2011. Grade: A