Hollywood so rarely has an environmentally-themed blockbuster movie that each one deserves to be singled out for praise. If you don’t have children, it’s unlikely you would see Rio 2, a “3D computer-animated musical adventure-comedy film” that came out in mid-April.
And just as well — it’s not great entertainment. It’s no Wall-E — Disney’s anti-consumption eco-dystopian gem. Heck, it’s no “Lorax” — a delightful kids movie based on the Dr. Seuss job-creator-as-villain classic.
As for Rio 2, the main (?) plot of this too-busy movie is that an outsider raised in the human world tries to fit in with the (blue) indigenous inhabitants of a tropical forest paradise — even as an evil human corporation threatens to destroy their home with steam shovels and deforestation. In the end, after many awkward attempts to become one of them, the outsider is the one who leads the indigenous creatures to fight against the evil humans, ultimately triumphing against their wanton eco-destructiveness in an epic battle.
Yes, that’s also the plot of Avatar. Movies are nothing if not derivative, and if you are going to copy you might as well copy from the number one grossing movie of all time. In this case, the outsider raised in the human world is Blu, a domesticated blue Spix’s macaw (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) that, in the original movie, two naturalists paired up with what they think is the last remaining female Spix’s macaw, Jewel (played by Anne Hathaway, of course) who wants to return to the wilderness.
In Rio 2, they do go back to the wilderness, find Jewel’s dad and a long-lost flock of macaws that the naturalists are also trying to find since proof of their existence would mean the government will prevent the rain forest from being cut down by those evil industrialists. Mayhem ensues (along with a lot of singing by the likes of Bruno Mars and Kristin Chenoweth and various Brazilian singers).
Brazilian Director Carlos Saldanha told HuffPost what he was aiming for in the movie:
Q: Apart from the happiness, the family, and the laughs that are in “Rio 2” the movie also tackles the issue of illegal logging and deforestation. Is the film a denouncement of this?
A. Yes, it’s a denouncement, a moment to reflect and think a bit about the future. Nature is one of the most important things to us [and] the planet’s current state isn’t very good. I think for the sake of the children’s future — my children’s futures, their children, my children’s children — we have to start to change, to preserve [the environment] more, it’s a very important awareness. I’ve always had that awareness and we have to pass it on to every generation. The movie takes on the issue in a simple way, not very strongly, but it’s very important.
Kudos to Saldanha and 20th Century Fox!