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Rio Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 2006
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough

Walt Disney introduced us to the infectious rhythms and riotous colors of Brazil in two of his 1940s hybrid films Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, but they have nothing on Carlos Saldanha’s Rio, a reasonably entertaining if sometimes overly predictable yarn that has so many hues bursting from the screen and so much toe-tapping music, and that’s even without 3D enhancement. This G-rated family musical comedy doesn’t really offer any advancement on the CGI filmmaking art, but it offers a handful of treasures and pleasures if one is willing to endure some of the very familiar narrative trails the film takes us down.

Rio (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Studio: 20th Century Fox
Year: 2011

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 96 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish

Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: August 2, 2011

Review Date: August 3, 2011

The Film


Poached from the Brazilian rainforest when he was just a chick, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) gets bumped out of the kidnappers’ van and finds himself in Moose Lake, Minnesota, taken in by the kindly and lonely young Linda (Leslie Mann). Cut to a dozen years later, and Blu is the last remaining male blue macaw on Earth. Against her better judgment, Linda is talked into accompanying ornithologist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) to Rio so Blu can mate with the last remaining female blue macaw, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), in order to save the species. But Blu is hardly Jewel’s dream bird having led such a sheltered and pampered existence that he can’t fly and isn’t able to fend for himself. And that definitely doesn’t bode well for them when the pair of birds is poached by the evil Marcel (Carlos Ponce). They manage to escape from his warehouse, but Marcel sets his wily, vicious scavenger cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) on them, and it’s a race for the pair to find safety, made more difficult since the abduction takes place during Rio’s Carnival season, its busiest and most frenzied few days of the year.

The movie is filled to the brim with catchy music (five production numbers plus the sights and sounds of Carnival), but the filmmakers may be accused of coasting just a bit by letting the music get in the way of more intelligent or inventive storytelling. And at least two of the numbers are very reminiscent of musical motifs in Disney films: the opening serenade in the rainforest with every manner of bird popping into and out of the frame to “Real in Rio” certainly echoes many of Disney’s Silly Symphonies while Nigel’s ode to his evil persona “Pretty Bird” recalls nothing so much as “Rattigan” in The Great Mouse Detective. The chase-theme of the film must occasionally stop for music or character exploration, but Blu’s reclamation of his heritage and the duo’s eventual recognition of each other’s worthiness (echoed in their humans’ blossoming attraction which is given even less investigation) are nothing new and hold no surprises. So we have a very beautiful film with only slightly interesting characters inhabiting it. It’s light and bubbly and even with the evil pair of Marcel and Nigel never seriously dangerous or upsetting.

Casting here has a curious tilt, too. Why is Jewel, who has been born and bred in Brazil, voiced by the very American Anne Hathaway? She acts and sings with precision and spunk, but it’s a peculiar casting choice to be sure. Also strange are the African-American voices of will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, and Tracy Morgan as the heroes’ helpful Brazilian friends the cardinal Pedro, the canary Nico, and the bulldog Luiz. Jesse Eisenberg makes a fine stumbling, bumbling Blu, and George Lopez is equally proficient as Jewel’s toucan friend Rafael. Carlos Ponce and Jemaine Clement breathe wickedness and sadism as the film’s evil twins, man and bird, while Leslie Mann and Rodrigo Santoro act the two main human beings in the piece with a firm handle on their basically sweet-natured characters.

Video Quality


The film has been framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Bursting with every color of the rainbow and then some extra ones, the image is a dazzling array of deeply saturated but fully under control colors. Sharpness is incredible throughout, and one will definitely be tempted to pause and study some of those rainforest sequences, the stunning aerial views of Rio as Jewel and Blu go hang-gliding, and the climactic Carnival parade. Black levels are gorgeous, and the image is as pristine as can be with no banding or color blooming. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

Audio Quality


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is almost everything one would expect from this kind of animated extravaganza. I was a bit disappointed that the surrounds weren’t a little more active during the Carnival parade sequence, but that’s the most minor of quibbles. Dialogue is firmly located in the center channel, and the explosion of music (John Powell’s score and the samba rhythms supervised by the great Sergio Mendes) on the soundtrack spreads deeply across and through the soundfield.

Special Features


All of the bonus material is presented in 1080p.

“Blu Shows the Way” is an introduction to the disc’s bonus feature content with the movie’s main character introducing the viewer to what’s in store on the disc.

There is one deleted scene presented in early animation and which runs 1 ½ minutes.

“Explore the World of Rio is an interactive map of the area that features Copacabana Beach, the Jungle, the City, and the Stadium. Each location you choose offers up video clips, photographs of the area, sound and text-based trivia all of which can be chosen on the fly. To experience the entire interactive motif of the feature requires at least an hour.

“Boom-Boom Tish Tish” is a 13 ½-minute featurette on the building of the soundtrack with Sergio Mendes, will.i.am, and Jamie Foxx recording music for the film’s various musical numbers.

“The Making of ‘Hot Wings’” is an 8-minute vignette with will.i.am and Jamie Foxx along with director Carlos Saldanha discussing the song they created for the movie.

“Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time” features interviews with all of the major voice talent who took roles in the movie showing many of them recording their performances and talking about their experiences making the voice track of the movie. The animators also discuss their work in bringing the characters to life after hearing the vocal performances in this 24 ¾-minute feature.

“The Real Rio” finds director Carlos Saldanha talking about his hometown of Rio and discussing why it was so natural of him to want to set a movie of his there. He also talks about the five-day exploratory trip that six of the staff made to Rio to film locales and soak up the culture so it could be imported into the movie. This runs 9 ½ minutes.

“Welcome to Rio” music video is presented in a 1 ½-minute clip.

“Telling the World” music video features singer Taio Cruz along with clips from the film in this 2-minute presentation.

“Postcards from Rio” is an interactive family activity in which four different card motifs are offered for individuals or families to construct to their own liking.

“Carnival Dance-O-Rama” allows family members to choose characters from the movie and learn their dance moves in order to dance along with them in a samba line that features six of the characters (individually or in groups): Blu, Jewel, Luiz, the monkeys, Nico and Pedro, and Raphael.

“Rio de JAM-eiro Jukebox” takes viewers immediately to the five production numbers in the movie: “Real in Rio,” “Pretty Bird,” “Hot Wings,” “Fly Love,” and the “Real in Rio/New Home” finale.

The theatrical trailer runs for 2 ½ minutes in 1080p.

“Angry Birds” trailer is a 1 ½-minute introduction to the Angry Birds.

“Angry Birds – Nigel Mashup” is a rehash of Nigel’s “Pretty Bird” song with the Angry Birds the viewers of his song. It runs 2 ¼ minutes.

“Angry Birds” instructional video explains how to unlock the videos on the digital copy using the code enclosed in the Blu-ray package. It runs ½ minute.

The disc repeats “Scrat’s Continental Crack-Up” short film which has been featured at the beginning of several other Fox 3D films. It runs 2 ¾ minutes.

The disc is BD-Live ready, but the only featurette not already on this Blu-ray disc is “The Acting Animators, a 3 ½-minute look at the animators acting out body and facial movements for the characters they’re animating, sometimes shown in split-screen views so we can see how their live action work resulted in the finished animation we see.

The disc contains 1080p trailers for Hoodwinked, Too! and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

The second disc in the set is the DVD copy of the movie.

The third disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie with enclosed instruction for Mac or PC installation.

In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

A moderately pleasant and certainly family-engaging animated musical, Rio can’t compete with the best from Pixar or Dreamworks, but younger family members likely won’t mind, and the adults will have a pretty good time, too. The Blu-ray release is a top flight affair that will show off the sound and color reproduction of your home theater set-up splendidly.

Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC


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