One of the last two blue macaws on Earth, Blu (yes, as in "-ray," voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) has lived such a sheltered life in frigid Minnesota, he's never even bothered to learn how to fly. But when he and his owner are invited down to Rio de Janeiro to breed with the only living female (voice of Anne Hathaway) and save the species, it's an offer too exciting to pass up.
Of course, being so rare also makes the pair incredibly valuable, and before they can close the deal they are birdnapped, to be smuggled out of the country and sold on the black market. They escape, but a wild chase is on, and chained together the couple shares a once-in-a-lifetime adventure across the erstwhile capital city during carnival, and the experience is every bit as lively and colorful as we would expect. Rio is full of catchy music and amusing characters, suitably entertaining for young and old viewers.
No surprise, the animation is exquisite, boldly designed and rendered. Quite often, every strand in every feather is visible, the leaves and tropical foliage are razor-sharp, and the colors are as vibrant as you are likely to see on any disc this year. I noted some video noise and streaking within the 2.4:1 frame, but overall this could qualify as a showoff disc.
The music creeps in slowly around us and before we know it, we are swept up in the pageantry of Rio de Janeiro. Sergio Mendes himself was tapped to be the executive music producer for the film, and the songs gets most of the love in this DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, with an aggressive 5.1-channel mix and crystalline resolution, backed by thunderous bass. Some voices and incidental sound grace the rears, but in general the movie action does not conspicuously exploit the available speakers.
Interestingly, no Portuguese audio or subtitles are provided.
A wealth of bonus content is supplied, much of it quite inspired in its creativity and use of Blu-ray technology. We can design and share our own virtual postcards via the remote control and an internet-connected player, and later we can dance along with one of our favorite characters or with a Samba line. The interactive map/tour of the movie locations is remarkably deep with lots to discover, much of it hosted by director Carlos Saldanha, himself a native of Rio. All of the video appears to be in HD.
The set also includes a DVD with a subset of the features listed below, and a Digital Copy disc for iTunes and Windows Media.
While lacking the de rigueur pathos of recent Disney/Pixar hits, Fox/Blue Sky's Rio is nonetheless an engaging ride through exotic locales with some charming companions, well-suited to the high technical standards of Blu-ray. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'm guessing my kids will make it their new "it" movie.
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