Original review featured on The Doha Film Institute website.


Director: Carlos Saldanha

Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway and George Lopez
Genre: Action & Adventure, Animation, Kids & Family, Comedy

Ice age Director Carlos Saldanha must be a proud Brazilian to heat up the screen with such a colorful journey with a local flare. There’s a lot of passion in this film that only a native could reveal.

The film is about Blu (Voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) an over-domesticated macaw living in cold and snowy Minnesota, with Bookshop owner Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann). Blu has everything he wishes for and is overwhelmed with Linda’s affection. He even adopted non-birdy habits of turning into a nerd who reads books and says things like “Yes. I can’t fly, I pick my beak, and once in a while I pee in the birdbath!”

But rare species like him won’t be left undisturbed; so he is taken away from home to be with Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway) who is the last female of her species in Rio. Their first encounter turned into a clash since Jewel is way too over-spirited. Before even getting the chance to develop their relationship, the two rare birds are kidnapped by smugglers and chained together. And to Blu’s misfortune, he can’t be much of an escape hero and has to reveal his secret: He never learned how to fly.

‘Rio’ is finally playing in Doha. It was released yesterday along with ‘Red Riding Hood, 2011’. It was hard to choose between a psychological thriller and an animation, both popular genres in Doha. All signs led me towards ‘Rio’ since the film is set in Brazil, the main character is voiced by Oscar nominated actor Jesse Eisenbergh and the poster looks humorous.

In the first 10 minutes of the film, I found it hard to detach Eisenbergh’s voice from his character in ‘The Social Network’. After all there are some similarities: both are particular, nerdy and exaggerated characters. But soon ‘Blu’ and Jesse become a whole and unique entity of a bird stuck in the jungles of Rio with his one love.

The film is screened in 3D, (with those glasses that never really fit your nose). I am not really keen on the third dimension era, but admit that it feels good when flying. (And there is plenty of flying here.) A little bit like the thrill you get in the winged sequences of ‘Avatar’. You fly high with them into a beautiful scenery from a ‘bird’s point of view’ (referring to aerial shots as well), not at all innovative as much as it is a duplicate of reel backdrops we know so well from tourist pictures.

Then come colors and music. You won’t be able to resist the Brazilian Samba beats that will make you all impatient and energized to dance along. You will literally feel like floating in fresh colors from both nature and the very famous Carnival of Rio (another advantage of 3D in this film).

And above all elements in this film, comes love. It is both romantic and funny when Blu and Jewel fight together and have their friends immediately set a romantic mood for them; after all they have to save their kind. And one of those set-up scenes has a great resemblance to the famous song ‘Kiss The Girl’ from the 1989 Disney’s ‘The little Mermaid’.

Yes you will enjoy ‘Rio’, I guarantee it. A very good family film for the weekend with a good lesson to learn about endangered species. And now that you know that Samba, colors, sun, and Rio di Janeiro are all involved in the picture, (adding to it the creators of Ice Age)…then you must have a good idea of what you’re expecting. You’ll want to adopt a macaw and book your next vacation to Brazil afterwards!!!

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