It feels like just yesterday, a pair of animated Blue Macaws named Blu and Jewel swung into theaters worldwide to earn the affection of audiences and critics alike in Blue Sky Studios’ Rio. But now they are ready for more. This spring launches a whole new adventure for the two birds and their equally feathery friends, and I recently watched an extended preview of the film, the details of which I’m excited to share with you.

Late last week I took a drive out to the Twentieth Century Fox lot in Los Angeles, where I attended a special press event for Rio 2, guided by director Carlos Saldanha. During the hour-long presentation, I got the chance to watch a great deal of footage from the film and learn all about what we can expect from the sequel, which promises to be a beautiful, music-filled animated experience. So, what can we share?

Rio 2
Old friends, and a familiar villain, will return
One of the biggest benefits of animation is that no matter how big you create an ensemble, it’s always pretty easy to get them to come back for a sequel, and Carlos Saldanha has managed to do exactly that for Rio 2.

Back as the film’s leads and continuing their story from the first movie, Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway once again star as Blu and Jewel, a pair of married blue macaws who are raising three baby birds together down in Rio de Janeiro. The new plot finds them traveling into the wildness of the Amazon searching for more of their own kind, but they are hardly alone. Leslie Mann and Rodrigo Santoro return to voice Linda and Tulio, the two humans leading the expedition; and George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, and have come back as Toco Toucan, Nico and Pedro, friends of Blu and Jewel’s who are not only helping their pals in the jungle, but also looking for a way to break into the music industry by finding a fresh new talent who can play during the city’s big Carnivale celebration.

It’s a cast full of friendlies, but what would be the point without a central antagonist? Back in that role is Jermaine Clement as Nigel, the theatrical, self-obsessed psychotic cockatoo who we last saw in the first movie taking a trip through a plane engine. Rather than killing him, the incident has simply left him flightless, but that’s not stopping him from making plans and bringing a new team together…

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