Well if there’s one thing you can say about Rio its that the character of Blu certainly looks great on Blu-ray. As mentioned in the main review, the film uses the 2.35:1 Scope ratio which this excellent 1080p Blu-ray perfectly captures. The transfer is encoded using the MVC codec and the picture is just fantastic, with gorgeously rendered computer generated animation. As you would expect from a film based in a city famous for its carnivals, the palette is an explosion of colour with sweeping vibrancy and dynamic intensities. The hues are stunningly rich and vivid and yet retain a natural depiction, never falling into excess. The film contains a vast array of different birds and renders them in brilliant shades and exquisite detail, with colours to match those of the city and its carnival. Throughout the film the colours appear perfectly saturated and pop off the screen with richness and vitality. This is especially true during the film’s climactic carnival scene, which also contains a breathtaking amount of detail. The Blu-ray’s contrast is exemplary with deep, solid blacks and revealing shadow delineation. The resolution is amazing, with incredible detail throughout, especially in the rendering of the bird’s feathers. This is an absolutely state of the art animated presentation, free of any artefacts and a pure delight from beginning to end.
However it is the addition of 3D that really sets this Blu-ray apart and the increased sense of depth perception is a revelation. The added dimensionality is used to effectively enhance the storytelling whilst always depicting a natural perspective on events. The panoramic vistas of Rio de Janeiro are wonderfully realised in 3D, creating a pronounced sense of depth and geography. The flying scenes benefit from both the wider screen and the added dimension to create a genuinely immersive experience. The negative parallax shots are rare but when used they enhance the visual dramatics with their in-your-face effects. However, overall the visuals tend to concentrate on the positive parallax, creating the sense of looking into the scene rather than being poked in the eye. The creative use of 3D adds so much more to both the characters development and the flow of the film, with the dance scenes in particular appearing very inventive. There is virtually no crosstalk visible for a wonderfully immersive and artefact free 3D experience, that ranks as one of the best we have seen.
The Blu-ray includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel soundtrack that is absolutely wonderful, perfectly capturing both the action and the music. The soundtrack expertly combines Sergio Mendes Brazilian influenced rhythmic tracks and the various musical numbers with John Powell's samba-influenced score. The instrumental timbre is distinctive, and the orchestral score and the Brazilian rhythms are spread across the front sound stage and deep into the surrounds for a very enveloping experience. The film is essentially a musical and as such the sound is dynamic and often lyrical, with percussion instruments pulsating throughout. The resulting dynamic sound mix propels the action with intensity whilst maintaing a natural presence, including atmospheric and sound effects which are perfectly mixed throughout and are also highly directional. The bass is deep and supportive when it needs to be, without overpowering the overall sound mix, with solid LFE engagement during both action scenes and in the drum driven soundtrack. Since this is an animated feature all voice actors were recorded ADR but these recordings have been integrated perfectly into the soundtrack and the resulting dialogue has a natural sense of spatial realism and clarity. The singing voices are also wonderfully recorded, allowing for some fantastic performances from the talented cast. Audio fidelity is exemplary and the overall sound design is spectacularly well presented, combining energy, rhythm and a dynamic presence. This soundtrack is sure to please even the most demanding audiophiles and will certainly give your sound system a thorough workout.
The 3D Blu-ray of Rio comes in a three disc set, the first disc contains the 3D version, the second disc contains the 2D version and the majority of the extras and the third disc contains the DVD version and the Digital Copy.
- Scrat’s Continental Crack-up (HD, 02:42) - By far and away the best extra on this Blu-ray is not mentioned anywhere on the packaging but this short is included at the start of both the 2D and 3D versions of Rio. Like the main feature, this animated short is in a ratio of 2.35:1 and is available in both 2D and 3D. The short itself is fantastic, a highly imaginative series of sight gags that were clearly designed with 3D in mind - an absolute treat.
- Deleted Scene: Fruit Stand (SD 01:29) - This brief scene is presented using a combination of voice track and storyboards and shows Jewel introducing Blu to the delights of fresh fruit. It doesn’t really advance the story and the point that Blu is domesticated has already been made elsewhere in the film so it is easy to see why it was cut.
- Explore the World of Rio - This interactive feature allows you to look at the different Rio de Janeiro locations created for the film, although it is really aimed at children.
- Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time (HD 24:49) - This is a standard ‘making of’ featurette that includes interviews with cast and crew. All the main voice talent are interviewed discussing their characters and the director Carlos Saldhana is interviewed explaining the evolution of the film and his desire to use Rio de Janeiro as a location and to incorporate Brazilian music. As in the film itself, Jermaine Clement is the funniest person in this featurette.
- The Making of Hot Wings (HD 08:02) - This featurette concentrates on will.i.am and his creation of the music for the ‘Hot Wings’ night club sequence. In it he discusses his influences, how he agreed to do the film because he wanted to work with Sergio Mendes and how much he enjoyed working with Jamie Foxx.
- Boom-Boom, Tish-Tish: The Sounds of Rio (HD 13:30) - This featurette covers the creatio of the Brazilian music for the soundtrack and specifically Sergio Mendes and the group of talented Brazilian musicians that he put together to work on the film.
- Carnival Dance-O-Rama - This rather pointless feature just shows the animated birds dancing to the music, again it is clearly aimed at children.
- “Welcome to Rio” Music Video (HD, 01:37) - This is essentially the final musical number from the film, presented as a music video.
- “Telling the World” Tiao Cruz Music Video (HD, 01:54) - A music video promoting the song that plays over the end credits.
- Rio de Jam-eiro Jukebox - This is a fairly pointless feature that just allows you to select different musical numbers from the film itself.
- Postcards from Rio - As the name suggests, this allows you to create different postcards from Rio de Janeiro and is once again realy aimed at children.
- The Real Rio (HD, 09:31) - This featurette follows some of the key animators as they travel dow to Rio de Janeiro in order to see for themselves the real locations before creating them in the computer. They also participate in some of the activities seen in the film such as hang-gliding in order to gain a better perspective before animating them. The featurette includes some gorgeos shots of Rio de Janeiro and gives you a good idea of how well the animators recreated the city for the film itself.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 02:26) - This trailer does a good job of selling the film without giving too much away or including all the best jokes.
This 3-disc Blu-ray release of Rio includes the 3D version, the 2D version and a DVD/Digital Copy and offers a marvelous audio and video experience regardless of whether you are watching it in 2D or 3D, although the 3D version remains the preferred viewing experience. The film itself is a bright and colourful animated adventure with some entertaining characters and some catchy musical numbers. Whilst the plot is fairly predictable this lack of originality is made up for with some inventive set pieces and creative use of 3D. The voice cast are mostly excellent and there are some amusing jokes and exciting situations to keep things moving along to the inevitable conclusion.
The 1080p transfer is framed at 2.35:1 and perfectly replicates the cinematic experience with wonderful colour rendition and superb detail resolution. The blacks are solid, shadow delineation is excellent and the image is free of banding and other artefacts. This is an absolutely state of the art animated presentation and a pure delight from beginning to end. The 3D is also extremely well presented and offers a wonderful example of how to use the added dimension to enhance the action and draw the viewer into the story. There is virtually no crosstalk visible for a wonderfully immersive and artefact free 3D experience, that ranks as one of the best we have reviewed.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel soundtrack is also absolutely wonderful, perfectly capturing both the action and the music. The soundtrack expertly combines Brazilian influenced rhythmic tracks and the various musical numbers into a samba-influenced score. The dialogue and singing are both well recorded and distinct, with the bass being deep and supportive. The surrounds are highly effective giving rise to excellent sound effects and atmospherics that are well intergrated and very directional. The overall sound design is spectacularly well presented, combining energy, rhythm and a dynamic presence. This soundtrack is sure to please even the most demanding audiophiles and will certainly give your sound system a thorough workout.
Whilst the audio and video are excellent, the extras are sadly mediocre and largely aimed at children but the addition of a supporting 3D short (Scrat’s Continental Crack-up) is a welcome treat. Overall Rio offers a reference audio and video presentation and some of the best and most immersive 3D we have seen to date. Highly recommended.
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