Review Rewinds 5/1/2017

Hello friends! I have a new monthly series I am finally going to announce to you.  This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Today I bring to you Review Rewinds. This is where I take a look at previous reviews and how my opinions have changed on the rewatch both for good or bad.

What? I can hear you say.  How can we trust you if your reviews change? Well, I’m a human being and my experience at a film can be impacted by a variety of factors. I could be tired, annoyed, sick of a particular actor or director. There could be a number of similar films coming out at the same time which might make me more critical and on the rewatch when I’m separated from that experience I appreciate it more.

The other factor is I often struggle to come up with a grade that adequately expresses my feelings. This is why I am very happy about my new smile and frown worthy approach. I don’t think very many movies go from being smile to frown worthy on the rewatch. They just might drop from an A to a B or a B to a C+.

Anyway, I thought this would be fun and show my history with a film not just an initial viewing.

Avengers: Age of Ultron- Original score A-. Rewind score- B-

From my original review “Got to see Avengers Age of Ultron and loved it!!  It’s a great movie and right up there with the original”. That was how I felt at the time so it was an honest response. I still love the first Avengers movie and I admire the sequel but the two movies aren’t close on the rewatch. The original film has Loki as the ideal villain and the death of Agent Coulson to gather the gang together. In Avengers: Age of Ultron you have Ultron who is fine but fairly basic. I still like James Spader as the voice of Ultron, but there’s not much to him.

But the biggest difference is they try to create emotion with Hawkeye and his family and it doesn’t work nearly as well as Coulson who we’d gotten to know in all of these other Marvel movies. I love the party scene in Ultron and the banter between the characters. That still holds up but certain scenes are bit boring like the Hulkbuster scene. Speaking of the Hulk, Bruce should put way more of a fight up against Tony’s insane ideas but he doesn’t. Especially with all Bruce has been through with the gamma radiation he should be very hesitant to do all these experiments.

Oh well. I still enjoy Age of Ultron but not as much as I did when I first saw it. Review Rewind!

Rio- Original Score C+. Rewind score- B

From my original review “They are entertaining to watch, pleasant to look at, but in the end kind of forgettable.” To my surprise I gave Rio 2 a C despite admitting it is “weaker than the original”, so that must have been some kind of mistake. I watched Rio for family movie night last summer and I found it quite charming. It’s not the greatest movie I’ve seen in my life but I enjoyed it and felt I was too hard in my original review.

One of my main problems with the film was the voice acting. I said “Of all the voices the only one I liked was Jermaine Clement as the bad Cockatoo named Nigel.” On the rewatch I didn’t have a problem with the voice acting. Sure Anne Hathaway doesn’t sound like someone from Brazil but I guess I’ve been worn down so I didn’t care. You don’t need the celebrity voices but they do fine. None of them are annoying like Kevin Heart in Secret Life of Pets.

I say the “extended musical numbers that don’t do anything for the story and are just kind of average.” Again on rewatch I like musical sequences. I think they have color and life and are a lot of fun to watch. It’s so weird because I’m usually won over by musical sequences!

I certainly think Rio is much better than Rio 2, which has a main appeal of the insane frog in love with the bird. I think if Rio came out now I would probably treat it a lot like Smurfs: the Lost Village and be dazzled by the pretty animation. I’m such a softee…

Edge of 17– Original Score B+, Rewind Score- C-

This was a mini review and I admitted ” it is expertly crafted but I found it kind of unpleasant to watch”. Sometimes this happens with a film. I will walk away saying ‘boy they did a good job…and I never want to see that film again”. I can honestly say the makers of Edge of 17 did a great job doing what they were trying to do. However, I can also say it left me depressed for the rest of the day and I never want to see it again.

It goes back to the lead character Nadine who is the quintessential surly teenager. It’s very well done. The problem is I have no desire to spend 2 hours with a surly miserable 17 year old. It reminded me of my surly days and honestly I called my Mother and apologized after, so I guess it was positive on that level. The performances are all good but it left me feeling cold and sour.

In the review I said “Everyone is comparing this to John Hughes and I guess it is like 16 Candles the most but I prefer this”. I’m not sure what I was thinking there because at least 16 Candles has some joy and goofiness in it. This is just so caustic and I found it even more so on the rewatch.

Rio and Rio 2: Review

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Blue Sky’s Rio and Rio 2 remind me a lot of Disney’s Bolt.  They are entertaining to watch, pleasant to look at, but in the end kind of forgettable.  That said, you will enjoy the experience of watching them so it is a mixed bag

In Rio we meet Blu who is a rare blue macaw living as a pet with his owner in Minnesota.  He is a completely domesticated bird and does not know how to fly.  Blu is voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and he is one of the many poor voicework choices in the movie.  Especially once they get to Brazil the voices don’t make any sense and are forgettable.  I found Eisenberg’s nasal nervous quality to be very grating so it was not a good choice.

Blu’s owner is contacted by a man from Brazil who has found another blue macaw and he is hopeful the two birds can mate and he successfully convinces the owner to bring Blu to Rio to try it out.

rio coupleThe girl macaw is named Jewel and is voiced by Anne Hathaway in another poor choice.  If a bird is supposed to be exotic living in Rio is Anne Hathaway the exotic voice that comes to mind?  Not for me.  Really George Lope and Rodrigo Santoro are the only voice actors in the cast who give it any kind of Portugese flair.

The rest of the cast we have Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan, Jermaine Clement, Leslie Mann, etc.

Of all the voices the only one I liked was Jermaine Clement as the bad Cockatoo named Nigel.  He is very funny and reminded me of Tim Curry.

rio villainsThe basic plot is pretty standard cat and mouse chase game with Jewel and Blu getting birdnapped by Nigel’s owner and the awkward Blu getting used to the tropical environment, bickering and romancing with Jewel, and learning to fly.  It’s all very predictable but in an entertaining way.

The colors and the light in the film are gorgeous and it looks beautiful throughout.  The animation quality holds up to any other studio.

Rio-Movie-Wallpaper-2But the music I could have done without.  Not a single number stood out or was memorable.  I really didn’t think the story needed to be  a musical, especially with a lead like Eisenberg who isn’t exactly known as a singer.

Some of the music does give a latin feel but this could have been accomplished with a the score and not the extended musical numbers that don’t do anything for the story and are just kind of average.

So of course our bickering couple end up in love and going back to their owners to live together (who also fall in love at the end of the movie).

The strongest part of the movie is Nigel.  He is very funny and an intense villain for this kind of story. I could have used even more of him and less of the singing.

Like I said, Rio is a perfectly adequate movie.  It looks great and clips along pretty well and kids will enjoy some of the humor (although they might get a little bored in some of the extended songs or the underwhelming action) but I think they will probably like it.

A warning to parents- there is a scene at Carnival where the human owner voiced by Leslie Mann is wearing an extremely skimpy outfit for a kids movie.  It felt rather garish to me.

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But other than that there is nothing offensive or crass.  Rio has a sweetness about it and it is an ok flick.

Overall Grade- C+

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So then we got Rio 2 this summer and I’m afraid to say it but I thought it was weaker than the original.

To start with it has all the weaknesses of the original with weak voice cast (although a hip hop influence with Bruno Mars and Will I Am was a fun addition), predictable plot and underwhelming musical numbers. It still looks fabulous but it doesn’t really surprise the viewers or do anything new.  It all feels very tired even though it looks great.

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In this story Blue and Jewel have baby birds and they live in a life of pancakes and ipods and Jewel is worried they will have forgotten their roots.  She yearns for the wild and through a variety of circumstances they end up in Rio looking for their owners (who have married since the original).

The big mistake this movie makes is it draws each step out too long and it is very cluttered.  Where the strength of the original was Nigel, in this film you have Nigel for brief spurts than a Big Boss who wants to tear down the rainforest (yawn of a villain), and a red macaw clan who don’t like the blue macaws.   They even face the red macaws in an extended soccer scene. Rio_2_Loggers_-_Big_Boss

rio 3Nigel_and_GabiNigel is a theater man in Rio 2 and not quite the villain of the original.  He’s still my favorite character in the Rio movies but I wish they had just focused on him instead of the other storylines and villains which are much more predictable.

Jewel finds out there are other living blue macaws and they eventually find a massive colony in the amazon (they must have not been looking very hard to miss that many blue macaws!).  It turns out it is the flock Jewel grew up in and it is ran by her father

Rio_2_-_Verry_MacawsJewel likes being in the wild and Blu hates it.  Blu’s new father in law thinks he’s a wimp.  There’s a long soccer match in the middle and a ton of side characters and attempt at humor that doesn’t really work.

Nigel has a side character that is a little poisonous frog voiced by Kristen Chenoweth and she sings a song called Poisonous Love which feels so out of place in the movie.  It’s a gorgeous operatic number and the divine Kristen of course can sing well but it does not fit the style of the movie at all.  But she is a cute character and watching her fall in love with Nigel is funny.

rio2There are so many characters we could list them all day but the George Lopez toucan who is head over heels in love with his wife bird is cute and I liked Bruno Mars as Jewel’s childhood friend and her father’s right hand bird.

So in the end, Rio 2 looks great, has some appealing characters but the songs are forgettable despite the hip-hop additions and the voicework is still a problem. But your kids will be entertained and it’s not a bad movie.  You could certainly do worse with your kids.  That’s for sure.

I enjoyed watching both Rio and Rio 2.  They are far from perfect but the colors are bright, they look gorgeous, Nigel is a lot of fun as a villain,  and the characters are engaging enough even if not on the Pixar/Disney quality level.  They just need to work on simplifying the stories and making them more interesting and getting better voice talent not necessarily famous voices.

Overall Grade- C