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By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Animated films have gained a new momentum with the introduction of 3D technologies to the movie theaters, but the upcoming animated feature Rio has an extra appeal for the residents and admirers of Cidade Maravilhosa.

'Rio - The Movie' features the principal landmarks of the city prominently, image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Animation.

Scheduled for release in early April, the movie had a teaser clip featuring a hand-gliding sequence ending up at a crowded beach that has been raising curiosity since last year; and now the expectations have been rising with the showing of official trailers in movie theaters.

Rio is an adventure-comedy film about a rare, blue macaw called Blu from small town Minnesota, who discovers that a female blue macaw has been living in Rio de Janeiro. Blu embarks upon the adventure of a lifetime by leaving his domestic cage-life behind and heading to Rio in order to meet the female macaw, Jewel. However, the birds are as different as they can be, since Blu is domesticated and does not even know how to fly, and Jewel is extremely free-spirited and independent.

The movie, created by the Blue Sky Studios and the team behind the Ice Age series, not only tells a family-friendly friendship story with interesting characters, but also is a spectacular manifestation of Rio de Janeiro’s unique wonders and culture.

Despite the fact that the movie is animated, the scenes that depict Rio de Janeiro look intensely realistic to those familiar with the city: Rio’s typical postcard views, Cristo Redentor, Pão de Açúcar, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, Pedra da Gávea, and Jardim Botánico all make flawless appearances in the trailers.

Carioca director Carlos Saldanha has been developing the movie for years, image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Animation.

Rio follows the recent trend of using the city as a principal location for the plot, following the examples of Fast Five, the last installation of The Fast and the Furious series, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, which have recently filmed in Rio de Janeiro.

The film’s director Carlos Saldanha, a Carioca living in the United States, and the director of all Ice Age movies, says that the idea was to make a movie showing Brazil, and the Latin American culture in general, from the eyes of an American, in the character of the macaw Blu.

The movie features The Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg as the voice of Blu, and Anne Hathaway as Jewel, in its original version. Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan, George Lopez, Jane Lynch, Wanda Sykes, will.i.am, Leslie Mann, Jemaine Clement, as well as the famous Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro also have lent their voices to the movie.

“We have created the entire city from scratch on our computers, everything from Pão de Açúcar to Corcovado”, says the director, adding that it also features a very rich soundtrack of Brazilian tunes.

Explaining how the process of creating the vivid colors and sounds of the city has been extraordinarily fun for the creative team, Saldanha says: “Rio de Janeiro is an extremely photogenic, three-dimensional city, with its mountains and all — it is the perfect world for us.”

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