Rio 2 (2014)

People, Not Situations

Getting back into thinking about how narratives get put together, I am reminded of how many radically different strategies there are in approaching a film.

If you talk to the (old) Pixar guys, what you’ll hear is a focus on story, a cinematic notion of story, above all else. The story comes first; characters emerge whether they are promising franchise characters or not. It is all about making the flow engaging and creating a lasting experience.

As I go through my list of valued filmmakers, I can pull out a number of different approaches: Ruiz looks for the dissonance between narrative layers and removes the middle. Cronenberg finds a disturbing edge, creates a situation, then builds things to present it. Spielberg makes comics that are refined in story boards then mechanically reproduced in film. I’ll have to think about the varieties.

Then we have this guy, Saldanha, who has sold a lot of tickets to happy viewers.

The strategy here seems to be to create characters above all else. Make characters. Find some kind of simple enclosing story, it doesn’t matter what. Have all the characters create their own local, small static story. Then just embellish those.

I suppose this approach has been refined over on the half hour TeeVee comedy side where story is just an excuse to have character spaces interact. I am always surprised when I see this work, and it plainly does here, though none of the characters are compelling in the ordinary way.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. In other films, I see stories getting ever more compelling in surprising ways and exhibiting self-awareness with increasing sophistication. These are fun movies, not art films I’m talking about. So it makes sense to have films like Ice Age and Rio for minds that don’t work that way, that have shorter narrative attention spans and undeveloped narrative sense.

This is designed for international audiences, and made by a Brazilian and set in Brazil. But most of the voices and nearly all the songs are hip hop urban style that is uniquely American.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *