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This Post is Secretly About Birds

This is somewhat a rant post, and sort of not a rant post; and it does contain spoilers for the animated movies, Rio and Rio 2. This is more specifically about Rio 2, why it sucks, and what I think should have been different. Also this post is long, because I can bitch about things for a very long time. (Skip to 'What Should Be Different'... or don't.)

This movie has birds in it, so... I had to see it. Okay, that's not the reason. I just like animated movies and had happened to see the first Rio sometime back when it was released. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it was enjoyable for simply a kids movie with likable characters, wait, gotta stop here for a second. The characters, while there were some loud ones, namely Pedro and Nico, it wasn't over the top and they fit the setting and atmosphere pervading the movie. I didn't care much for the two named birds, but they (well Nico) at least worked well for it. The plot was standard, but nothing cringe-worthy that makes your sides hurt and want to jump off a building, plugging up your ears to shut the... we'll stop there. The animation is one of the better things about it. It's well done, very fluid and colorful. A lot is happening, but it's not an overload.

The plot for each film can be found at these two links, or just keep reading here as I give an overview and my own thoughts.
Rio 1 Wikipedia
Rio 2 Wikipedia

We then come to Rio 2, which I had heard nothing about and didn't even know it was in theatres until I saw it on the board when choosing another movie. (Maleficent I think?) It wasn't until after it was released on DVD that I saw it online. (No, I didn't steal or pirate it, my viewing was legal and paid for.) Before watching the movie, I wasn't expecting anything out of it, I was pretty sure it would suck hard. Then I saw the premise for the movie. In the first movie, the protagonist Blu, a blue macaw, is brought to Rio de Janeiro to mate with a female blue macaw named Jewel. Blu was raised by a human girl and comes to know human environments and what they do as the norm. Jewel is in captivity, but wants to get free. When Blu is brought to her, it's right in the middle of her escape plan. The two are accidently tied together during her escape, which of course brings Blu along with her. The two are very different people(birds), shenegans occur and we have the movie of their eventually coming to like one another. Something I want to note here about the first. Blu is never out of his element in the first movie. He knows humans and their habitats very well. While he is strung to Jewel for a very large portion of it, the two never leave the confines of human influence. This is important to note.

Into the second movie, the two macaws still think that they are the last two blue macaws in existance. They now have their three kids, who are actually introduced and set up well, about one of the only good things in Rio 2. The premise is the two hear about other blue macaws being found in the amazons, so Jewel decides she wants to bring the family there so her kids can see what it's like to be a macaw, as their current lifestyle isn't completely bird-like. This is where I thought the second film could actually be good, maybe better than the first. I brought my hopes up that it wouldn't simply be a standard animated sequence that is essentially the first movie cranked up to 11 without any of the charm. This is exactly what it turned out to be. Rio 2 is loud and at times obnoxious I feel. It never slows down, never stops to really take in anything. As soon as it looks like it's finally calming down a little to reveal some character, something loud and spontaneous must happen. The animation is still really good, it's like the first Rio, but with more saturation and color. Imagine 100,000 boxes of Fruit Loops all exploding open at the same time, that's Rio 2 in a nutshell. The choreography is great, the songs aren't too bad. Certainly better than Frozen's songs, actually this movie is better than Frozen. Frozen sucked, it sucked hard. Fuck that movie, it isn't good. It's damn awful. Horrible characters, horrible writing, god-awful annoying songs.

So we're back to Rio 2 now. I looked up reviews on Rio 2 after watching it, and it seems to average a 49%, which I find fair. Something that many reviewers said was that they wanted the characters to shut up and sing more. And I thought... NO, stop saying that, stop giving writers more fuel to write garbage. They needed less song and dance, and more dialogue. The dialogue was very rare, but when it actually happened, at least without all the noise in the background, it was enjoyable. So far, no one mentioned the thing that really made Rio 2 suck. Well sorta. They covered why the movie in itself was bad. It being loud and obnoxious, the characters not being very likable, the horrible plot. There were too many characters, no focus. Blu of course has trouble adapting to his new environment in the amazon, but that isn't at all important in the film's eyes. It introduced his three kids well and then forgets about them. We get almost no more development for any of them past that first scene.

What Should Be Different
Rio 2 was bad for those reasons above, but it isn't the core of what really made it suck. When I first saw the premise, I thought that it would thematically be a whole lot different. In Rio 2, Blu is now moving to the Amazon, at least temporarily in his mind. This is a complete departure from what he knows. He'll be out of human establishment and into the unknown for the first time. This movie should have been about change and dealing with everything that comes with that. Jewel would already be established as she didn't grow up in human captivity, and while the three kids have so far, they would be far more adaptable than Blu at this point. It's set up perfectly for the theme of change and we could experience it through Blu.

The beginning of Rio 2 could mostly stay intact as it is mostly like the first. This would be great as a contrast to the rest of the film and remind us of familiar safe ground. Especially the scene introducing the three kids as it lets us know just enough about them at this point. In the actual film, when the macaw family leaves for the amazon, a lot of other characters from the first movie come with them. Namely Pedro and Nico (and one other bird), who were incredibly loud and obnoxious in this film. They are horrible characters to have here. While they were a good contrast to Blu in the first, here they only get in the way. Instead, all those characters should have been left behind and never seen in the film again. Sometimes with big changes, we leave big things behind.

The two prominent human characters from the first were also present quite often in Rio 2, who added nothing to the film. They shouldn't be in the film at all aside from the beginning. In fact, as soon as Blu and Jewel arrive in the amazon, there should never be another human seen again. Which means we remove those human antagonists as well. The bird, Nigel, one of the villains from the first movie is also back. (Yeah, Rio 2 had too many villains as well.) He should also be completely written out. In fact, there shouldn't be any actual 'villains' in this movie as thematically, they are completely unnecessary. The antagonist in this should have been Blu's conflict in dealing with the big change in his life, both the inner and outer elements that come with it.

With all the characters that Rio 2 had, none of them could really get any development. By removing all those side characters that aren't important, we give a lot more room for the important plot element and those new characters to be brought out more. By removing those human antagonists and Nigel (and by extension the ant eater and the frog) we give more time for the other more important conflicts to play out and resolve properly instead of the very contrived way it did.

The characters we see right on the movie's box are Blu and Jewel's three kids, who would be arguably who we would want to know the most about as far as the new characters go. But past the first scene, we don't get anything. We see that they're all of varying intelligence levels and mischievious. There's Carla, who is a music lover. Tiago, their only son, who we really only get any development during the first scene. Then my favorite, Bia, who is an intelligent math-wizz. The problem is they were all pretty one dimensional, which stemed from there being too much and not enough to go around. Perhaps in my revised version, one of them also suffer from not immediately fitting into their new setting. A role perfect for either Carla or Bia, though I think it works best with how Carla was established. It would make sense as she's fairly comfortable with her lifestyle in human establishments that she would reject the move to the amazon, then further goes through those hardships that Blu would be working through as well. She's often seen wearing headphones. Perhaps that would be a way she helps comfort herself and 'escape' the amazon, though inevitably when the batteries run dry, this would no longer be an option.

In the actual movie, Blu has a knapsack with various supplies, like his gps. There's a scene near the end where he puts all this down and decides to leave it behind. The scene had no weight to it as that knapsack, while shown often, was never a source of comfort during the movie. It never held any signifcance other than, sudden random tool that Blu uses for 2 seconds before another character loudly interrupts.

In my version, like Carla's music, the knapsack is an escape or a delusional reminder that things will be okay. But unlike the batteries forcing that away from Carla, we'll take the original movie's route of Blu willingly leaving it. Blu goes through the understanding that things have changed and the knapsack isn't going to help him fit into his new culture and environment.

I'm not going to do an entire script, but simply giving the movie a thematic change, one that I feel it was ready to go already, would have made it much better. If your question is; “Why did you even write this up?” I don't know. Aside from my own full viewing, I've seen this movie a few times at work on about 40 or so TVs. I've had a lot of time to view the movie and think about the above. Take it as you will.

And since this is a DT Blog post, well here's a screenshot of something a little bit goofy.


Anonymous said...

This screenshots looks interesting.

It seems like you can attach yourself to these four thingies on the vehicle and Need to dodge the obstacles while it moves along while also trying to hit Switches.

I'm not someone who's much into design and all, but might I suggest something?
I don't know if this particular room of the Level let's you only drive downstairs. But it would be awesome if there might be a Segment (maybe in another room) where the vehicle doesn't only move diagonally downwars but also in straight direction (either to the right, to the left, straight upwards or straight downwards) as well as diagonally upwards. Meanwhile the obstacles wouldn't only be static Spikes but would be able to move in a certain pattern (you know these electric moving balls from Mario games? Yeah these might fit in here) or enemies that try to attack you. Did you ever think of including something from Battletoads? Watching the graphics for this Level something like the Turbo Tunnel might work well here. But maybe I am all to sadistic. :P

ZephyrBurst said...

I'm always open to suggestion regardless of what they know or don't know about design. Good suggestions are good suggestions. Lots of good stuff has come from the testers who many of them have said they don't know too much about video game design. A lot of it has made it into the game from small to very large game changing ideas.

That said, there will totally be another segment in this level with another vehicle that does more than this thing only going downward.

ZephyrBurst said...

Forgot to mention, I gotta be careful with what is thrown at the player on these. When Jerry is hit, he is knocked off of them and it is very hard to recover from that. These segments that are over open pits are essentially forced perfect runs. How these are set up is important though, if the player were knocked off the top one, they could fairly easily recover to the bottom one, especially since being knocked off doesn't disable your double jump. (Latching to one of these recovers your air-dash and double jump.)