Carlos Saldanha, who co-directed and directed the global blockbuster “Ice Age” movies had long wanted to write a love letter to his hometown of Rio. From his imagination came a story about a nerdy, highly domesticated bird who goes on the adventure of a lifetime in that wondrous city that produced the highly successful “Rio” movie released in April 2011 that became a worldwide smash with almost $500 million at the global box office.
Now, his lead characters Blu and Jewel voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway are back in “Rio 2” for a grandeur adventure into the wild with the Nigel the villain at their trail. To fully realize the scope and breadth of this magical world and its vivid characters, Saldanha brought together an all-star voice cast, led by Oscar® nominees Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, Oscar and Grammy®-winner Jamie Foxx, acclaimed musical artist will.i.am, actor-musician Jemaine Clement, comedic actress Leslie Mann, actor Rodrigo Santoro (a Brazilian native), actor-comedian George Lopez, and funnyman Tracy Morgan.
Saldanha returns to Brazil and reunites his beloved characters in “Rio 2.” In the new film, it’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids, after they’re hurtled from Rio to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful and villainous Nigel, and meets the most fearsome adversary of all…his father-in-law.
The world’s favorite “Rio” characters are joined by Oscar nominee Andy Garcia, Grammy winner Bruno Mars, Tony® winner Kristin Chenoweth and Oscar/Emmy®/Tony winner Rita Moreno. RIO 2 also features new Brazilian artists and original music by Janelle Monáe and Wondaland.
In “Rio 2” we find Blu, Jewel and their family living the perfect domesticated life in the city. The offspring are: Bia (voiced by “The Hunger Games’” Amandla Stenberg), who lives with her beak in a book and likes spouting facts and figures, just like her dad; Tiago (Pierce Gagnon, “Looper”) the youngest, who is always up for adventure, especially if it involves destroying something; and Carla (singer/actress/comedian Rachel Crow), the eldest, a spunky teen who longs to get a little space from her protective family so she can express her musical side.
When Jewel decides the kids need to learn to live like real birds, she insists the family venture to the Amazon. Blu tells his buddies of his travel plans, but Nico, Pedro and Luiz warn him of the myriad dangers that could lie ahead in the wild. But the ever-positive Rafael encourages Blu, reminding him that “a happy wife means a happy life!” Upon their arrival, Blu and Jewel meet the locals, including Eduardo (Andy Garcia), a larger than life patriarch with a firm set of rules, who becomes a comedic obstacle for Blu; Mimi (Rita Moreno), Eduardo’s warm and sassy sister, who likes to speak her mind, even to her overbearing brother; and Roberto (singer-songwriter-record producer Bruno Mars), a perfect specimen of a wild bird who charms everyone around him and makes Bluself-conscious. As Blu tries to fit in, he worries he may lose Jewel and the kids to the call of the wild. Meanwhile, the treacherous cockatoo Nigel plots his revenge on Blu, aided by Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth), a cute poisonous frog who is fiercely loyal to Nigel and though small in stature, possesses a huge villainous heart.
With the success of “Rio” the call for a sequel came quickly. Saldanha decided to set his new story in the mammoth Brazilian wilderness. “I wanted a setting very different from the one we explored in ‘Rio,’ he explains. “I thought we should move away from the city.” So, in RIO 2, it’s on…in the Amazon, not only visually, but musically. “We wanted to look at different musical ‘flavors,’ sounds and exciting new beats that make the soundtrack for “Rio 2” even bigger than the first film,” says the director.
“Rio 2” in 3D and 2D will open nationwide on April 9 in theaters nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.