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As animated features go, RIO ($40) doesn’t break any new ground story-wise, but the film is delightful, colorful and certain to please all members of the household on family movie night. Because RIO doesn’t break any new ground, there is something very familiar about the story; elements seem borrowed from a number of other sources, plus the stranger in a strange land premise has been done countless times by Hollywood. That being said, RIO remains a wholly enjoyable little enterprise that will carry adults away on its Latin rhythms, while the kids will be swept away by the characters and antics of it’s domesticated bird, who is forced out into the wild.

RIO tells the story of a Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), a male blue macaw, who was captured from the wild when he was little more than a hatchling. Winding up in Moose Lake, Minnesota, Blu is adopted by Linda Gunderson (voiced by Leslie Mann) and lives a fairly sheltered existence. Something of a geek by bird standards, Blu has mastered the computer and even skateboarding, but in the fifteen years he has lived with his best bud Linda, Blu has never learned to fly. Blu and Linda’s quiet bookstore existence is shaken, when Brazilian ornithologist Túlio Monteiro (voiced by Rodrigo Santoro) enters their lives. Túlio requests that Blu and Linda accompany him to Rio, where Blu will have the opportunity to mate with a female blue macaw, to propagate their rare species.

In Rio, Blu meets and is immediately smitten with Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway), the female blue macaw he has traveled all that distance to see. Jewel, on the other hand, is less interested in Blu than she is in escaping Túlio’s aviary. Unfortunately, Blu and Jewel are stolen from the aviary by smugglers, but the two rare blue macaw manage to escape their captors… albeit chained to one another. Thus begins our flightless domesticated macaw’s adventure in the wild, where Blu and Jewel are helped by a good-natured Toco Toucan named Rafael (voiced by George Lopez), and forced to avoid a psychotic Cockatoo named Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement), who works for the smugglers intent on recapturing the pair. The vocal talent behind RIO also includes Wanda Sykes, Jane Lynch, Jamie Foxx, Will i Am, Carlos Ponce, Jeffrey Garcia, Davi Vieira, and Jake T. Austin.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made RIO available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. RIO features an utterly gorgeous 1080p presentation that is worthy of a place on anyone’s demo disc pile. Like the other CGI animated production mastered from the original digital computer files, RIO looks phenomenal on Blu-ray, and produces a glorious image of superb clarity and texture-mapped detail. With so many tropical birds on display, not to mention a trip to Carnival, colors are rich, vivid, deeply saturated and completely stable. Bright primaries and secondary hues look amazing from start to finish. Blacks are absolutely perfect, whites are pure and the image has the kind of smooth contrast that can only be created in the digital realm. Coming off the digital files, there is neither grain nor visual imperfections in the image.

RIO is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. It should come as no surprise that RIO sounds every bit as good as it looks on Blu-ray. The sound design is incredibly well implemented and makes excellent use of all the outlying channels for active sound effects placement, as well as other atmospheric elements. With a story that features so many birds in flight, is it any wonder that the soundtrack soars. Of course, RIO also features many musical interludes, whose benefit greatly from the wonderful lossless encoding on this Blu-ray. The music is light, but rhythmic and is reproduced with marvelous spaciousness, clarity and fidelity. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Saving The Species: One Voice At A Time (twenty five minutes), The Making Of Hot Wings (eight minutes), The Real Rio (ten minutes) and Boom Boom Tish Tish: The Sound Of Brazil (fourteen minutes). Explore The World Of Rio provides an interactive tour of the title city. Carnival Dance-O-Rama offers dance lessons. Welcome To Rio Music Video and Tiao Cruz: Telling The World Music Video are also provided. Also included are a Rio De Jam-eiro Jukebox, Postcards From Rio and some additional levels for Angry Birds Rio. A Deleted Scene and Theatrical Trailer close the standard supplements. RIO is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray. Disc three features a Digital Copy of the film.

RIO is a wholly enjoyable little enterprise that certain to please all members of the household on family movie night. The Blu-ray looks and sounds phenomenal. Definitely recommended.


Rio (Blu-ray/ DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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