John Powell

" nice but standard John Powell score "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

From Carlos Saldanha, the director that gave you Ice Age comes Rio, a 3D computer animation movie about a domesticated macaw that meets the fiercely independent Jewel, and takes off on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with the bird of his dreams. Rio was a world wide box office success, but the reason I became interested in it was because Saldanha returned to the composer he worked with on Ice Age 2 and 3, namely John Powell. And besides, John Powell is the composer to go to when you're doing some kind of an animation (he scored 13 animations already in his career), plus his entire repertoire of 2011 is nothing but music for animations. Which means that we can't expect them to be equally brilliant all the time.

Rio is standard John Powell stuff, music that bares his mark, his voice, his typical style. The reason I'm not fully enjoying Rio is because it lacks a spark, a special ingredient that would have made the standard music of Rio better. That is not to say Rio is adequate, because it isn't. For starters, we have a nice playful main theme that gets a lot of airtime during the score (the fun "Mourning Routine" is a keeper), as is the lovely "Great Big Momma Bird" and "Bagged and Missing", as are the full blown versions in "Birds Moved", "Rio Airport" and "Flying".

The score has for the record a couple of Latin flavored moments ("Paradise Concern", "Juicy Little Mango", "Motorbike") and a couple of more creative instrumental pieces including bird calls ("Locked Up" (by that delivering us the secondary theme of the score repeated in 9, 14 , 16, 17 and 18) and "Bedtime Flyers" to name a few). Plus when listening to a John Powell score, one can't dismiss the expected rhythm changes (the brief "Locked Up", the delightful energetic "Chained Chase" (Happy Feet revisited), the Latin craziness of "Umbrellas of Rio", "Motorbike", "Bird Flight" and "Heimlich" and the serious action theatrics of "Rio Airport". As expected, Rio has them all.

So technically speaking, there is nothing wrong with Rio. Thematically, there is nothing wrong with Rio. Personally speaking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Rio. It's just, it is typical, lovely and expected stuff from him. And after having heard some of the ever best musical animations in How to Train your Dragon and Mars Needs Moms, Rio just doesn't deliver us the same weight in gold. It's like the one animation score too many, the one too many when we just needed a breather, the one where perhaps something extra is missing. Once again, they can not be all equally good, and I'm sure a pure John Powell fan will still find plenty of amusing material in Rio. For me, it's just lacking that something extra.


1. Morning Routine * (2.23) Excellent track
2. Meet Tulio * (2.55)
3. Great Big Momma Bird * (2.47)
4. Paradise Concern (1.59)
5. Bagged and Missing (2.09)
6. Locked Up (2.10)
7. Chained Chase * (2.35)
8. Bedtime Flyers * (2.58)
9. Idiot Glider * (1.56)
10. Juicy Little Mango (2.27)
11. Umbrellas of Rio * (2.28)
12. Motorbike (1.23)
13. Bird Fight (1.03)
14. Birds Moved * (2.33)
15. Heimlich * (2.31)
16. Birdnapped * (3.37)
17. Rio Airport * (4.24)
18. Flying * (2.43)
19. Market Forro: Carlinhos Brown & Mikael Mutti (2.11)

* Contains interpolations of the song Favo del Mel written by Sergio Mendes, John Powell and Mikael Mutti

Total Length: 47.12
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 12 votes - average 3.63/5)

Released by

Varèse Sarabande 302 067 084 2 (regular release 2011)

Conducted by

Pete Anthony

Orchestrations by

Germaine Franco, Rick Giovinazzo, Randy Kerber, Andrew Kinney, Dave Metzger & John Ashton Thomas

Performed by

The Hollywood Studio Symphony