We got to check out an early preview of Rio 2, the sequel to the wildly popular animated hit that gave us those hilarious and heartwarming Rio quotes. Movie Fanatic took our seat in a theater on the 20th Century Fox lot and we were simply amazed at the film whose sights and sounds should eclipse the first film that was a massive hit in 2011.
Director Carlos Saldanha created the world of Rio as a tribute to his homeland, and in Rio 2, he’s delving deeper into his Brazilian roots as Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and the gang head into the Amazon on a family adventure that has them discovering they are in fact now the only Blue Macaws left in existence!
Besides Hathaway and Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx, Will.I.Am, George Lopez, Jemaine Clement, Rodrigo Santoro, Leslie Mann and Tracy Morgan reprise their roles from the first film. We saw footage and heard the great voice work of some new talent added to the cast… most notably Andy Garcia as Jewel’s father, Kristen Chenoweth as a Gabi, a salamander-type helper of the evil Nigel (Clement), Rita Moreno as Jewel’s aunt and singer Bruno Mars as Roberto, an old friend of Jewel’s.
We saw almost 30 minutes of footage, only bits of which were featured in that explosion of color and sound that was the Rio 2 trailer, including the film’s opening musical sequence which takes place on New Year’s Eve, which Saldanha told us was second in Rio in popularity, only to Carnival.
It was exciting to see that Jewel and Blu have three kids, Carla, voiced by Rachel Crow, Bia (Amandla Stenberg, Rue from The Hunger Games) and Tiago, voiced by Pierce Gagnon from Looper.
The story follows the family as they discover that the human scientists from the first film, Linda (Mann) and Tulio (Santoro, soon to be seen in 300: Rise of an Empire), are deep in the Amazon because they’ve discovered evidence that there is a huge enclave of Blue Macaws living there, where once it was thought they were endangered.
After the brilliant footage that shows off even more Brazilian music than was featured in the first, Saldanha answered some questions to further fill in the blanks for the film that hits theaters in 3D on April 11.
What sets Rio 2 apart from Rio, Saldanha said, was how the world of these characters has greatly expanded. “Being in the Amazon, getting to that world is very different from the first one,” he admitted.
“With the first one, the challenge was to do the city, with Rio as the city. With this one, we had to go to a completely new world. We had to do a lot of research about what trees are in the Amazon, and the plants and animals. So, that’s the most different part of it.”
Given that he is Brazilian, the filmmaker felt a certain amount of pressure and pride bringing this world to life, especially given the expansive nature of the sequel.
“I remember growing up and seeing movies made about Brazil, I never felt connected to them. There was too much of a foreign eye to it for me. So, I tried to be as careful as I could to make something that not only felt true for Brazilians, and close to their reality and what they can see, but also close to my heart, so that I feel that I belong in that world. [It is] also something for the rest of the audience that’s never been there,” Saldanha said.
“I want you to feel like, through the movie, you can see Brazil. It’s not a documentary. I’m showing the side that I want to show and that fits my story, but I think it’s pretty accurate. When I had the premiere in Brazil and people saw it, for the first time, people bought that I was making a movie about Rio and it felt right. I wanted to share a little bit of that culture.”
Soon after Rio was completed, the filmmaker knew he wanted to make a follow-up. Given that film’s success, he got his chance. And there were elements of living in Brazil that he did not get to include in the first film that are featured prominently in the second, one of which was a soccer scene that Movie Fanatic got to witness.
“The soccer scene in Rio 2 was something that I had the idea for with the first one, but I couldn’t realize it for the story because I couldn’t find a place for it. But, I wanted to do that so badly because one of the signature things about Brazil is soccer, so it had to work for this one,” Saldanha said.
Now that Blu and Jewel were together, the sequel allowed Saldanha to answer the question, “What’s next?”
“The movie came out and people were very happy with the first movie, but I still had a lot of stories to tell. We ended the first movie with the idea that they were together, and I wanted to know more,” he said.
“I wanted to know more about what happens to them and their children. If they’re the last of their kind, what’s going to happen to their future? That’s how the story started in my head.”
Before we were done, we had to know if he already had ideas for a Rio 3. “I don’t know. I worked on all of the Ice Age films, so I knew the drill. If you have something that people connect with, you want to keep telling that story and progressing forward,” Saldanha said.
“I use the analogy of my wife, and how we have four children. After the first one, you never ask right away if they want to have another one because they never want to go through that pain again,” he said. “I’m still trying to work through my labor pain! For now, I just want to get this baby out, and then we’ll see what happens.”
Missed the first instant classic or need to catch up on the world of Rio? Why not watch Rio online.