A Macaw-Inspiring Animated Epic

An Active3D Movie Review: RIO 3-D

Rating (out of 5 stars): ***

Travelogue-cum-family-friendly-adventure - the visual splendour of Rio 3-D.

Blu is an appropriately-named blue Macaw who’s grown up under the wing, so to speak, of his owner and best friend Linda in the small, snowy town of Moose Lake, Minnesota. Their blissful domestic routine is disturbed one day when a geeky Brazilian bird expert arrives at their doorstep, and explains that, because Blu is such a rare bird, they need to bring him to Brazil to mate with a female counterpart, and thus ensure the survival of the species. At first Linda resists the proposal (which includes flying her to Rio to accompany her feathered pal), but her conscience gets the better of her, and before long, they’re off to Rio Blu is introduced to Jewel, a beautiful but haughty female blue Macaw who is less than impressed by Blu’s inability to fly like the city’s wild parrots.

But it turns out that Jewel’s bad attitude will be the least of Blu’s worries, as the birds find themselves enmeshed in the nefarious activities of a gang of animal smugglers. By introducing this narrative thread, the film draws attention to the illegal trade of exotic animals that results in the cruel and unnecessary death of many animals every year. So, if this film can, in its own small way, make filmgoers mindful of this ugly trade, then so much the better.

The movie offers much action and adventure – which may even alarm the littlies – but the entertainment quotient is high. And who better to direct it than Rio-born Carlos Saldanha, who gives the film a travelogue quality, and guides the animator’s restless virtual camera throughout this busy metropolis – from its palm-lined beach boulevards, to its cluttered, steeply-inclined favelas.

The good news is that Brazilian legend Sergio Mendes was brought in to take care of the film’s music – though the bad news is that most of the time, the seductive rhythms of Brazil have been bastardised, in an effort – one presumes – to make them sound contemporary and more friendly to the North American ear. Eeeuw. I was also not very comfortable with the new age sexism that characterises the tale. Blu, the male parrot, is the awkward, nervous one; the one who can’t fly, who’s initially mocked by the able and street-smart Jewel. Similarly, with the human characters, it’s the male Brazilian bird-geek who is bumbling and largely ineffectual, whilst Linda, by contrast, is strong and capable. One strong, moral male in the film might’ve been a nice role model for the little boys in the audience! All in all, however, a colourful, exciting and entertaining romp.

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