The Art of Rio

Art of Rio STD_FINAL FINALAuthor: Tara Bennett
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Titan Books
Source: Titan Books
Genre(s): Art, Media Tie-In

Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Spoilers:  N/A (Mild film spoilers in the first image)
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Ladies and gentlemen, this is an artbook. I mean this is an artbook. I am pretty frequently impressed by the quality of the books Titan Books puts out but this is probably the best looking one I’ve seen so far. And I was a big fan of their Elysium artbook so that’s saying something. From the first moment I got this artbook I desperately wanted to read it but I had to old off until this past weekend because I hadn’t seen Rio 2 yet and I didn’t want to be spoiled! I loved the original film and so I had been looking forward to the sequel far too long to ruin it for myself.

Luckily I was invited to a pre-screening last Saturday morning so I got to spend the rest of that morning really pouring over the book.

It’s pretty amazing.

Stunning at times, really.

There’s just something special about animated films, I suppose, that makes their artbooks so mesmerizing. The painting on the Art of Rio‘s dust cover alone is breathtaking and really gives you an idea of what you’re going to see inside. Before you open it, though, maybe lift the dust cover up for a second because underneath is an equally stunning piece of concept art set on the crazy, color streets of Rio at night.

photo 1
Am I the only one who finds this image just breathtaking? Imagine the talent that it takes to do that! It’s so beyond me all I can do is sit in awe.

Inside you’ll find plenty more vibrant pieces of concept art and that was pretty much my favorite part of the book.

I loved flipping through it looking at the expansive landscapes, the intricate paintings of Jewel and Blu, the artists’ renditions of what would become iconic scenes in the films. Seriously, in my ideal future where I was rich and could buy anything in the world my house would just be filled with concept art paintings just… everywhere. For some reason they are the prettiest things ever.

Even when it’s rampaging zombies or something.

Absolutely gorgeous.

The detail always blows me away.

Also included in the book are pretty much all the little things you’d expect from an artbook of this calibre. There are two main parts of the book: one dedicated to characters, one dedicated to locations.

Some characters, like Luis, could have been WAY different.
Some characters, like Luis, could have been WAY different.

Each of the characters in the films and each of the many locations they visit between the two movies are included with their own two to four or so pages. You’ll see early concept art of the characters and see how they developed over time. There’s even a section specifically dedicated to how the team went about making the features on all of the bird characters so realistic and lifelike. Most of the time viewers just sort of take that sort of thing for granted. Not a whole lot of people really appreciate the kind of dedication, ingenuity, and artistry that goes into making a digital film look this great.

The second section has us revisiting favorite, familiar locations all around the city of Rio and into the rest of Brazil.

Rio 2 does a great job of including a broader look at Brazil beyond the confines of Rio. Which makes a lot of sense consider part of the whole inspiration for the film was Saldanha’s desire to make a film that really captured the spirit of Rio and his native Brazil. His foreword in particular is quite moving and it’s easy to see the passion he and the rest of the team have for the project.

My panorama skills could maybe a bit of improvement I will admit.
My panorama skills could maybe a bit of improvement I will admit.

Tara Bennett’s constant commentary throughout the book only helps solidify that. She does a great job of explaining things. Well, at least she does for a more mature reader. Like most animation artbooks it’s not necessarily for children. They’ll love the pictures same as anyone else but the real heart of the book is for the movie lover, the animation aficionado.

And if either of those describe you then you should really consider picking up this book.

At 192 pages, the Art of Rio is pretty much perfect. It feels complete. Some artbooks feel like they are too short sometimes, like there is no way than can fit in everything. The Art of Rio is not one of those books. It includes just as much as you’d hope for in a book chronicling two such fantastic films and then even more. I really couldn’t be any happier with it.

Final Thoughts:
The Art of Rio is an incredible book filled with incredible details about the people, characters, places, and methods that went into creating the Rio films. Full of life, color, and passion, it will pull you in and keep you glued to each page until you’ve read it all the way through. Just don’t read it until you’ve seen Rio 2! Spoilers!

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