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Carlos Saldanha’s Rio 2 is of the same flock as 2011’s Rio. The sequel is cheerful and colourful, fast-paced without being too gimmicky about the animation, and bursting with easily digestible jokes and accents. So if it is utterly predictable, a bit bland and never quite rocks the nest, so be it.

Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), the rare Spix’s macaw who flew off with Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway) into the sunset at the end of Part I after having sent the villainous Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement) into an aircraft propeller, is living the equivalent of the cushy suburban American life in a protected zone in Rio de Janeiro.

A series of plot twists take them to Jewel’s home in the Amazon rainforest, pursued by Nigel, who can’t fly any more (the only cruel turn in an otherwise benign story), poisonous frog Gabi (voiced by Kristin Chenoweth) and anteater Charlie (who uses his tongue only to mop up ants). Blu meets his stern father-in-law (voiced by Andy Garcia) and goes through the mandatory self-assertion exercises, including playing a version of avian football, before he saves the tribe and the Amazon itself.

The presence of Blu’s former handler Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann) and husband Tulio (voiced by Rodrigo Santoro) in the ecologically endangered jungle gives Saldanha the opportunity to considerably expand the emphasis on preservation from the first film. The villains here are illegal loggers, who get their wings clipped Avatar-style by the Spix’s macaws, who share their blue feathers and then some with the 2009 movie’s Na’vi tribe.

The animation is packed with tropical elements, never losing the opportunity to provide a bird’s-eye view of the backdrops and parade a series of adorably fluffy avian specimens. Neither Nigel, who discovers a new-found tendency towards Shakespearean theatricality, nor Gabi, whose pink-and-purple colour coordination and winning smile makes her the prettiest character around, are ever anything but cute.

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The fast-paced and risk-free screenplay is timed perfectly at 101 minutes, just as the level of predictability gets as hard to take as the prospect of yet another song-and-dance sequence. For a movie that asks for birds in particular, and nature in general, to be left alone, Saldanha can’t resist anthropomorphizing the creatures to the extent that they sound and behave an awful lot like humans. Perhaps this franchise needs to be more bird-brained than it is at the moment.

Rio 2 released in theatres on Friday.

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