Posts Tagged ‘Rio’

Tops ‘n Tails of 2011

January 31, 2012

OK, so I haven’t been living up to the ACTIVE in my blog’s name, and I apologise profusely. It was a very busy silly season… Here then, without any further ado (because goodness knows there’s been a lot of ado already…), my critical glance over the past year’s 3-D releases:

The worst 3-D release of 2011:

Jock of the Bushveld – without a doubt.  Some folk in the local film industry complained that the film struggled against low budgets, and had overworked staff doubling up their duties, etc, etc. The bottom line is: if you can’t compete with the Dreamworks of this world, then don’t put yourself in the same arena. Make an interesting short film, or another style of film that isn’t as labour-intensive. Yes, we know that the big American animated features utilise cheap labour in the East. Well, do the same, then, but don’t turn out something of such low quality and punt it as a “South African first”, because it isn’t a “South African first” of which to be terribly proud…

Fourth, Third and Second Best Movies of 2011:

In Fourth Place comes the Sony Pictures/Aardman co-production, Arthur Christmas. A neat, funny, adventurous and sometimes quite moving tale of family politics, it finally clarifies just how Santa manages to deliver quite so many prezzies in one night!

In Third Place, the Shrek spin-off, Puss in Boots. I really hadn’t been looking forward to this, but its satirical take on the western genre and Hispanic melodrama was consistently laugh-out-loud hilarious.

It was a close call between this one and the movie with which I eventually crowned the list. That said, Second Place goes to Rio. A domesticated male parrot meets – and falls beak-over-tail for – a female parrot from the wilds of Brazil. They’re both targeted by cruel animal-smugglers, but after much colour, adventure and mayhem, all ends happily.

And the 3-D Movie of The Year for 2011…

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

We waited a long time for this Spielberg motion-capture epic, and hardcore Tintin fans were worried that the essence of our Belgian boy-hero would be lost in a big Hollywood budget. I’m happy to say that the director and his creative team have shown nothing but the highest respect for the source material (that is so inextricably woven into the fabric of so many of our childhoods).

I had worried about the use of motion-capture, as, in films such as Zemeckis’s A Christmas Carol, this nascent technology made most of the protagonists look cross-eyed. This time around, however, the eyes work just fine, and make for meaningful interaction between the characters. Going by the closing credits, it looks as if teams of people were kept busy with that task alone; keeping the characters’ eyes realistic.

That concern having been tucked away, I could concentrate on enjoying the film, which lovingly and faithfully resurrects all those colourful folks one remembers from the Tintin comics. The extrapolation from creator Hergé’s two-dimensional cartoons to three-dimensional computer images is largely successful, although, curiously, Tintin himself is the one who takes the most getting-used-to, as his computer-animated manifestation is the furthest from the books, I thought. But it’s no biggie, and I soon settled in to it… Climb in and enjoy the short-tempered, booze-addled Captain Haddock, the twittish Thompson twins, Haddock’s butler, and assorted villains – and let’s not forget the formidable opera diva,  Bianca Castafiore! They’re all there, as we’ve treasured them in the vaults of childhood memory, and their exploits are packed with action and derring-do (to the degree that I’d suggest the film might be too frightening for those under schoolgoing age – who shouldn’t be seeing 3-D movies anyway, for the sake of their ocular health). The gun-play is quite realistic, which startled me at first, but let’s not quibble:

Spielberg’s Tintin was everything I’d hoped it might be, right from the opening title sequence which pays a three-dimensional homage to the story’s two-dimensional comic-book origins by expanding the 2-D planes (as had been done in Captain America’s closing title sequences, if memory serves…). Now; roll on the sequel!

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A Macaw-Inspiring Animated Epic

April 27, 2011

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.