Rio 2: a preview from director Carlos Saldanha
12 years ago, Blue Sky Studios released the first installment of their heartwarming franchise, Ice Age, directed by Carlos Saldanha. Since then, the studio has hit the ground running, dedicating itself to producing animated features: Robots, Dr. Seuss and of course, the Ice Age sequels. In 2011 Saldanha was once again at the helm to direct the colourful, and altogether warmer, Rio, the tale of an endangered blue macaw trying to find a partner in the technicolor landscape of Rio de Janeiro.
Unsurprisingly, Rio was a huge hit and with the release of Rio 2 on the horizon, The Upcoming had a peek at some exclusive footage and spoke with director Carlos Saldanha about his exotic animation.
There’s no doubt that Saldanha is proud of what he has achieved in putting Rio de Janiero on the map. In Rio 2 he was keen to explore more of Brazil, moving Blu, Jewel and their adorable chicks out of the big city and back to their jungle roots. For Blu, the phrase “it’s a jungle out there” has never been truer. While Jewel embraces an unexpected family reunion, Blu endures a clash of cultures and goes head to head with his father-in-law, Eduardo (Andy Garcia), in an animated Meet the Parents tribute.
Rio 2 is, Saldanha says, “bigger and wilder”, and this is definitely reflected in the burgeoning cast. Fans will see a return of all their old favourites, including lovebirds Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway), double act Pedro (will.i.am) and Nico (Jamie Foxx), and dastardly cockatoo Nigel, played by Flight of the Conchord’s Jemaine Clement, who Saldanha admits is his favourite character. Adding to the lunar cast are the legendary Andy Garcia, Tony Award-winning Kristen Chenowith, and international superstar Bruno Mars as Blu’s overconfident love rival, Roberto.
As expected of Blue Sky Studios, the animation looks as neat as ever, and comes with a side of comic genius unlikely to disappoint. Saldanha’s nod to the “global phenomenon” of TV talent shows, in which will.i.am and BFF Jamie Foxx judge a rib-tickling parody, is packed full of life, and looks to be one of the movie’s greatest scenes.
Brazilian culture is a huge part of the Rio franchise, and something that Saldanha holds dear to his heart. A large part of this, Saldanha says, is in the soundtrack, which boasts Janelle Monáe, Sergio Mendes, and Brazilian body percussionists, Barbatuques. But it’s not just music that Saldanha is embracing, with the country in the global spotlight in the run up to the World Cup, Saldanha could hardly ignore the Brazilian passion for soccer and Rio 2 sees Blu getting to grips with the pitch.
Rio 2 hasn’t lost its precursor’s environmental message, this time focusing on the devastating destruction of the Brazilian rainforest, but Saldanha is also enthusiastic about the endorsement of family values – however difficult it may have been to animate the hundred-strong community of blue macaws. Above all, Saldanha is adamant that fun always comes first, and fun is something Rio 2 has in bucket-loads.
Rio 2 is released nationwide on 4th April 2014.
Watch the trailer for Rio 2 here: