Movie review: ‘Rio 2’ a sequel filled with environmental messages

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By Tom Hanlon


Colorful, fast and fun, “Rio 2” is sure to delight young audiences. This sequel picks up a few months after the events with which the first Rio left off, with the spix’s macaw Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and his family living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

The majority of the movie takes place deep in the Amazon rainforest, where Blu, his mate Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their three kids decide to take a family vacation to discover their roots. 

Along the way they hope to reunite with Blu’s former owner Linda (Leslie Mann) and her orthinologist husband Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), who are searching for an elusive spix’s mackaw in hopes of finding more of the endangered species. 

Rafael the toucan (George Lopez), Nico the yellow canary (Jamie Foxx) and Pedro the red-crested cardinal (Will.I.Am) accompany the family. 

After only a little while in the Amazon, the travelers are kidnapped and carried away by birds that reveal themselves as spix’s macaws that live in a secluded grove. Jewel reunites with her father Eduardo (Andy Garcia) and the macho Roberto (Bruno Mars), who was her childhood friend. 

Throughout the movie, returning villain Nigel, an evil cockatoo, tries to assassinate Blu. A poisonous tree frog named Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth) and a silent and clumsy tamandua named Charlie help Nigel.

The real threat to the characters in this film, however, is an illegal logging operation bent on destroying parts of the Amazon. By designating the main villain as the operation, the filmmakers are obviously trying to raise awareness about environmentalist issues.

While this tactic has merit, it is also getting old. Give us a break. We don’t need another movie filled with an environmentalist agenda. 

Instead of putting the work in to create a memorable enemy, the filmmakers opted for something that does not require the thought that would go into a meaningful antagonist. The film unnecessarily resurrected Nigel, whose attack did almost nothing to affect the overall storyline.

Additionally, all the villains were dull because the movie did little to creatively portray their characters. The film lacked the originality that the first “Rio” brought to the table. 

Despite this shortcoming, the movie was non-stop, full of energizing music and color. There is always something happening in “Rio 2,” captivating young audiences. 

Although children will enjoy this fast-paced plotline, mature viewers might be thrown off by the constant speed with which events progress. There is no time in the beginning for the audience adjust to what has happened since the first movie before the adventure in the Amazon begins, and this can be off-putting for adult viewers. 

Throughout the movie, one cannot help but constantly feel bad for Blu. The whole world seems to be against him at times, and this puts an annoyingly constant damper on the film’s otherwise cheerful vibe.