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Blu-ray Review: Rio (2011)

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Animation really isn’t my thing; I’m just going to say that right off. But, every now and again, I inadvertently come across a family-friendly animated flick that doesn’t leave me with an overwhelming sensation to set things on fire. In fact, in the case of Rio, a computer-animated feature from the folks that brought us the Ice Age franchise, I actually found myself in a state of enjoyment throughout the duration of the 96-minute movie.

The story here, while not wholly remarkable in a “what a highly original concept” kind of way, concerns one of the last remaining blue macaws on the planet, Blu (voiced by Michael Cera’s constant running mate, Jesse Eisenberg) who received his ridiculous name by his human familiar, a nerdy, bespectacled Minnesota gal named Linda (Leslie Mann). Approached one day (out of the blue — ha!) by a Brazilian ornithologist by the handle of Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), who intends to mate Blu — an insecure and neurotic creature who hasn’t quite mastered the ability to fly– with one of the last remaining female macaws, Jewel (Anne Hathaway).

Departing from their snowcapped state for sunny Rio de Janerio, the average “bird out of water” story commences as the rare birds are kidnapped by smugglers. A playful, energetic music score that was produced by Brazil’s own Sergio Mendes accompanies. Frankly, I think the whole film was formed just so they could force American kids to listen to samba music — which is a good thing, I think.

As I said before, this isn’t an entirely inventive story. It’s fun enough, however, to keep most of its viewers entertained thoroughly — even if the casting directors did give in and hire will.i.am and Jamie Foxx to voice a couple of feathered street urchins.

Flight of the Concords member Jemaine Clement voices a crazed cockatoo (and sings a witty song, as you might expect him to), and Tracy Morgan, Jane Lynch and Wanda Sykes are among the film’s other vocal contributors. In keeping up with some unwritten law in the world of animated talking animal films, George Lopez voices a toucan with a large family.

Sure, there’s that weird “all people that don’t hail from the United States are silly” kind of vibe that is usually present in movies of this variety. Fortunately, though, it doesn’t reach the point of extreme racial stereotyping like we see regularly in the “kiddie” films made by the haters at Disney.

Fox Home Entertainment brings us Rio in a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy pack) with a stunning 1080p MPEG-4/AVC transfer (it‘s also available as a Blu-ray 3D release). If you’re looking for something to get the most out of your HDTV and stereo setup, your bird has just flew in: Rio looks and sounds absolutely brilliant. The film is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio with positively striking colors and fine detail throughout. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack delivers just as well, mixed to perfection for your listening pleasure. Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in French and Spanish are also available, and optional subtitles are provided in English (SDH) and Spanish.

Rio carries a rather large assortment of special features with it, including a snipped segment (that is shown in storyboard format with voices) and a good half-dozen behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the film. Also included are some things that are mostly for the kiddies, such as an interactive tour of Rio itself (which mostly consists of photographs), a music video, jukebox and other things that make us adults go “Huh?” Lastly, there’s an original theatrical trailer for the film.

In short: even if you don’t like the movie itself (which was the biggest-selling August release in home video history, incidentally), the A/V aspects of this release are definitely unbeatable.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.