Rio 2

THE LAST DAYS discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Last Days Marc is living in the office building he used to call his place of employment, and he’s not alone. Humanity worldwide has fallen victim to a deadly form of agoraphobia. Walk outside, and you’re dead within seconds from fear. Three months into the epidemic Mark and another survivor manage to set out via the sewers in search of Marc’s pregnant girlfriend, but their journey reveals a species on the brink of extinction. This Spanish production tackles a familiar subject — the post apocalyptic world — and imbues it not only with a fresh premise but also with real heart and character. It looks good too as special effects and production design come together to create a believably devastated world, and all of it is enhanced with a script that manages to hit some familiar beats without feeling redundant. The film is solid throughout, but the final thirty minutes offer some touching and exciting turns. Fans of the underseen but fantastic Perfect Sense should most definitely give it a shot. [DVD extras: Trailer]

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Crunch Bird

Everybody loves birds. At least that’s what Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox were betting on with last weekend’s Rio 2, the sequel to 2011′s hit animated avian musical comedy. Yet the notices aren’t great – our own Neil Miller gave it a C in his review. I’m sure the film will make a whole bunch of money, especially in merchandising, but a lot of you bird fans are probably staying home. As Adam Bellotto explained in his article about creating a great “animated bird movie,” this is actually a genre. It has rules, or at least guidelines for how to prevent something dreadful like Free Birds. It shouldn’t surprise you, either. Cinema is the art of motion, and there are few acts more mystifying than flight. It sits just out of reach for most live action movies, as it’s a little hard to shoot in the air. Animators are the magicians best able to hone in on this fascinating, natural miracle. For proof, just look at the Oscar record. No animated short with the word “bird” in the title has ever lost the Best Animated Short Oscar, and five have won. Here are three of the best.

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Rio 2

These days animated films can go one of two ways: either you’re making something original and potentially interesting, or you’re making a sequel to that something original and potentially interesting you made previously because there’s a studio behind it that likes money. Such is the story of Blue Sky Studios and filmmaker Carlos Saldanha. Several times now Saldanha and the very talented animators at Blue Sky have given us something interesting. This includes Ice Age in 2002, Robots in 2005 and Rio in 2011. And with the exception of one (the sadly underrated and clever Robots), they’ve come back for more every single time. Four times in the case of Ice Age. Why? Because kids like it, parents will pay for it and these movies sell toys of prehistoric squirrels just trying to find a nut. Does the mere idea of a sequel discount a movie’s quality? No. Does the fact that they are treading on well-worn narrative ground take anything away from the vibrant animation? Not at all. These movies have plenty of right to exist. Most of them are financial, but some of them are creative. Still, that doesn’t make it any less sad to see talented teams doing pre-merchandising work when we know they’re capable of telling us original and unique stories. As I sat in a mostly empty Thursday evening screening of Saldanha and Blue Sky’s latest sequel, Rio 2, I was struck with a thought as that prehistoric squirrel scampered around the Blue Sky introduction logo: I wish that guy who co-directed Robots would […]

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Rio 2

Our latest edition of upcoming films featuring Sassy Animals Doing Things (click each link; they all lead to different animated critter movies) features the trailer for Rio 2, the sequel to the cutest depiction of smuggling ever depicted on film. Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (Anne Hathaway), and their three little bird-children are still living happily in their sanctuary, but life gets a little bit boring when you have wings and you can’t stretch them. So they decide to take a trip to the Amazon to spice things up. “We’re not people, we’re birds,” Jewel says to her husband. Could have fooled me, talking bird-wife who lives in a house. Once in the mighty rainforest, they meet a host of new crazy macaws (like Jewel’s father), and attempt to reconnect with their roots. Even in animated bird form, Eisenberg still gets stuck playing the neurotic one who has a Very Bad Feeling About All Of This and needs to use a Swiss Army Knife as an extension of his claws. Note the bird who is there to make wacky remarks like “AMA-WHAAAT?” when they announce the gang is going to the Amazon, or “the Amazon is pop pop poppin!” South America has such a beautiful array of birds. Like the original, Rio 2 is saturated by gorgeous colors and music that will keep it captivating after the dialogue stops poppin. Check out the trailer here:

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