By a Front Row Features Staff Reporter
Unlikely heroes are at the heart of two new family-friendly home video releases.
New on Blu-ray and DVD is “Rio 2,” the worthy recent follow up to the hit 2011 animated comedy about two rare blue macaws from different worlds that find true love.
Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) reprises the voice of Blu, a nervous, domesticated bird from Minnesota, who nonetheless now lives in the Brazilian capital with his more adventurous macaw bride Jewel (voiced by Oscar winner Anne Hathaway.)
The G-rated movie opens with the pair enjoying domestic life with their three young chicks. News of other blue macaws spotted in the country’s wild Amazon region convinces Jewel that they need to pack up the kids and discover their roots. The ever-cautious Blu reluctantly agrees to the family adventure. The trip leads to a family reunion with long lost relatives and Jewel’s old flame. Meantime, an old foe is plotting revenge against Blu and Jewel, and humans threaten to destroy the unspoiled Amazon jungle habitat.
In addition to bringing back beloved characters from the original film, Brazilian filmmaker Carlos Saldanha, who also wrote and directed the first “Rio,” added many more characters to the mix, including Jewel’s imposing father Eduardo (voiced by Andy Garcia), former flame Roberto (voiced by singer Bruno Mars), and Broadway mainstays Kristin Chenoweth, as Gabi, a poisonous frog in love with the villainous white cockatoo Nigel and Rita Moreno, as Jewel’s fun-loving aunt Mimi.
In addition to the fun-filled animated adventure, the “Rio 2” Blu-ray includes nearly an hour and a half of extras. Viewers can get their groove on with two downloadable bonus songs from the soundtrack: “I Will Survive” and “Poisonous Love,” both performed by Gabi (Chenoweth) and Nigel (Clement). For even more fun, every Blu-ray comes with 15 exclusive levels for Angry Birds Rio and Music Machine Sing-Along and Dance-Along songs. There’s also Janelle Monáe’s “What is Love” lyric video, a deleted scene, character auditions and more.
Also new on home video (as of Tuesday, July 22) is “Justin and the Knights of Valour,” a fun animated feature from Arc Entertainment, produced by Antonio Banderas (“Puss in Boots”), and directed and co-written by Spanish helmer Manuel Sicilia.
The animated action adventure features an all-star cast, including Freddie Highmore (“Bates Motel”), who voices the character of young Justin, who dreams of following his grandfather Sir Roland’s footsteps and becoming one of the legendary Knights of Valor. On his quest, he encounters several quirky characters, including the beautiful Talia (Saoirse Ronan) and the handsome Sir Clorex (Banderas), who prepare Justin with the skills he needs to become a mighty knight. Justin is put to the test when he is forced to face a power-hungry army of thugs, led by the mighty Sota (Rupert Everett). The young warrior soon learns that true strength comes from the heart. The PG-rated film also features the voice talents of Julie Walters, Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams and Mark Strong.