As a result of the success of the first film, Rio 2 is hitting theaters on April 11th, with Carlos Saldanha back at the helm. This time around, Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway) and their three kids journey to the wilds of the Amazon to meet more of their kind, finding out that there aren’t just more blue Macaws out there, but that they’re actually family. While still having to contend with the vengeful Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement), Blu must also figure out how to win over his father-in-law Eduardo (voiced by Andy Garcia).
Collider was invited over to the 20th Century Fox studio lot for a presentation from director Carlos Saldanha that previewed new footage, introduced the new characters and voice actors, showed off the new world that this story is set in, and showcased the new original music. Hit the jump to find out what we thought about the footage, what you should know about the sequel, and a Q&A with Saldanha.
One thing that was obvious from the Rio 2 footage that we got to preview was that the sequel would be full of beautiful, vibrant colors and great percussive beats that really give the vibe of Brazil. Kicking off the film with a New Years celebration, at the peak of the summer in Rio, when it’s 110 degrees out and millions of people party on the beaches, it quickly makes it apparent that this is a movie about being hopeful and looking forward to the future. With the jungle elements and all of the birds flying around and performing in big musical numbers, it seems as though the 3D will actually enhance this viewing experience.
Without revealing any spoilers, here are 15 things that you should know about Rio 2:
- They just finished mixing the film a couple of weeks ago, and are now working on finishing up the color timing.
- Since he developed the story, Saldanha wanted to continue it for the sequel.
- Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Will.i.Am, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro and Tracy Morgan have all returned to voice their characters again.
- The sequel has added Andy Garcia, as Jewel’s father, Rita Morena, as Jewel’s aunt, singer Bruno Mars, as Jewel’s old friend Roberto, and Kristin Chenoweth, as Nigel’s sidekick Gabi.
- While the first movie was about finding the characters and finding their personalities, this film continues the story and finds new chemistry between them.
- Blu and Jewel now have three kids – Carla, voiced by Rachel Crow (former The X-Factor contestant); Bia, voiced by Amandla Stenberg (Rue from The Hunger Games); and Tiago, voiced by Pierce Gagnon (Looper) – and are trying to figure out the best way to raise them.
- While human couple Linda and Tulio are on an expedition in the Amazon, they find evidence that there are more Macaws, which leads Blu and Jewel to go on a family trip to search for their roots in the wild.
- After having been defeated by the blue Macaws in the first film, Nigel is back and looking for revenge. He and his two sidekicks, a poisonous frog named Gabi and an anteater, seize an opportunity to venture into the Amazon to attack Blu and his family.
- The blue Macaws in the Amazon have managed to stay alive because they keep away from humans, which leads to conflict between Eduardo, who despises humans and Blu, who lives with humans.
- The more domesticated Blu has a hard time adjusting to the wild life in the Amazon, and unintentionally violates the territory rules between the blue Macaws and the Red Macaws, nearly causing an international incident. When the red Macaws challenge him to a dual, all he wants to do is fix things.
- Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and composer John Powell, who created the music for the first movie, are back. This time around, they are exploring Brazilian rhythms even deeper.
- Singer Janelle Monáe wrote a fun opening number for the movie, for the big New Years celebration in Rio. And the Brazilian band Barbatuques wrote and performed a song that utilizes their body percussion.
- When Roberto was originally envisioned as the character who could steal Jewel’s heart, it was as a tough guy with a deep voice who was a classic hunk. Once Bruno Mars was cast, they changed the role to highlight who he is and what he does best, even including his singing.
- Even though Andy Garcia was not get for his own musical talents, they ended up making use of those abilities through ad-lib.
- Supporting characters Rafael, Nico and Pedro are preparing for Carnivale by trying to find fresh, new talent, so they are holding auditions. They find untamed and untapped talent in the Amazon, but also unknowingly cross paths with Nigel.
Question: What will the final length of the film be?
CARLOS SALDANHA: About 100 minutes with credits, so about 90 minutes.
What makes this film the most different from the first one?
SALDANHA: I think being in the Amazon. Getting to that world is very different from the first one. With the first one, the challenge was to do the city, with Rio as the city. With this one, we had to go to a completely new world. We had to do a lot of research about what trees are in the Amazon, and the plants and animals. So, that’s the most different part of it.
Were you able to use any of the digital assets from the first film on this one, or did you have to start from scratch?
SALDANHA: I used some of the assets. We actually used the models, but we had to re-rig everything because technology evolves. Even though it’s only been three years since I made the first one, we’ve evolved quite a bit. There’s a lot of technological evolution in the process. It’s interesting because it’s not so overtly seen in the movie, but it reflects in the quality of the picture and how much better it is to move the characters around. There’s a lot of hidden technology that makes everything more powerful and bigger. Of course, we didn’t have to re-model Rio. Rio was all modeled. So, for the first act, we had it all there. But, we had to do new things. We used most of what we had from the first one, and then upgraded them and added more.
Do you feel pressure, being a Brazilian filmmaker, with how you portray Brazil?
SALDANHA: Yeah, for sure! I remember growing up and seeing movies made about Brazil, I never felt connected to them. There was too much of a foreign eye to it for me. So, I tried to be as careful as I could to make something that not only felt true for Brazilians, and close to their reality and what they can see, but also close to my heart, so that I feel that I belong in that world, and also something for the rest of the audience that’s never been there. I want you to feel like, through the movie, you can see Brazil. It’s not a documentary. I’m showing the side that I want to show and that fits my story, but I think it’s pretty accurate. When I had the premiere in Brazil and people saw it, for the first time, people bought that I was making a movie about Rio and it felt right. I wanted to share a little bit of that culture.
How soon did you know that you wanted to do a sequel?
SALDANHA: It was very soon. Nowadays, we can’t stop to think too much about it. The movie came out and people were very happy with the first movie, but I still had a lot of stories to tell. The soccer scene in Rio 2 was something that I had the idea for with the first one, but I couldn’t realize it for the story because I couldn’t find a place for it. But, I wanted to do that so badly because one of the signature things about Brazil is soccer, so it had to work for this one. We ended the first movie with the idea that they were together, and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know more about what happens to them and their children. If they’re the last of their kind, what’s going to happen to their future? That’s how the story started in my head.
Is there any chance of a Rio 3?
SALDANHA: I don’t know. I worked on all of the Ice Age films, so I knew the drill. If you have something that people connect with, you want to keep telling that story and progressing forward. I use the analogy of my wife, and how we have four children. After the first one, you never ask right away, if they want to have another one because they never want to go through that pain again. I’m still trying to work through my labor pain. I’m not asking. For now, I just want to get this baby out, and then we’ll see what happens.
Rio 2 opens in theaters on April 11th.