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:: Rio

Rio opens with a scene of flash and colour and then never really dips from there. And this is one time when some amazing animation isn’t let down by a weak story. Quite the contrary actually, as this is a film whose story and characterisation is deep enough to keep both children and adults enthralled.

The film follows Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), a Blue Macaw that is ripped from his rainforest home as a fledgling and then smuggled to America. As fate would have it he literally falls off the back of a truck and is rescued by Linda (Leslie Mann) whose lonely life is consumed by the lovable bird. Enter, Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) who convinces Linda to travel to Rio so Blue can be mated with Jewel (Anne Hathaway) in a bid to save their species. But this doesn’t go smoothly with Jewel and Blu again becoming the target of bird smugglers which means Blu has to shake off his ‘pet’ mentality in order to make sure they both survive.

The creators of Rio (incidentally the same team that brought us the Ice Age movies) are really onto a winning formula when it comes to animated films. The stunningly colourful animation certainly does justice to real-life Rio De Janeiro, while the animation itself is so good you feel that the characters are real and that you are right there in Rio with them. Screenwriter, Don Rhymer only adds to the recipe of success. His characterisation of Blu and Jewel is what makes them seem so real while Rhymer has been able to develop a script that exposes a cruel act like bird-smuggling while making the film child-friendly just goes to show what a great writer he is. His story will certainly never bore you and such is your attachment to the main characters that you never want to see anything bad happen to them. Even the subsidiary characters are 3-dimensional… something that doesn’t happen very often these days.

The voice actors also need to be congratulated for their work on Rio. None are easily obvious with even Jesse Eisenberg managing to disguise his distinct voice by giving Blu a bit of a twang. As you would expect Anne Hathaway is certainly up to the task but the person who steals the shows is Jemaine Clement who voices the evil, Nigel. He is so good you’ll think it is an actor of the calibre of Geoffrey Rush behind the mic.

Rio is the kind of family film that is a joy to take the kids to. The kids will be entertained for ninety minutes by a film that captivates the imagination and the parents won’t find themselves bored out of their brain as they struggle to put up with a kiddy-film. Rio will be loved by people of all ages and is one of the best animated films to surface so far this year.