Rio 2 is a 2014 American animation film directed by Carlos Saldanha. It tells the story of Blu, Jewel and their three kids. They are Blue Spix Macaws, which is a rare species of birds thought to be almost extinct. The family decides to go to the Amazon rainforest after hearing there might be more of them out there. The ones who found evidence of other Blue Spix Macaws are Linda and Tulio, two bird experts. Linda and Tulio are trying to get a preserve declared in the area, but that interferes with an illegal deforestation operation by a logging company. They call Linda and Tulio ‘tree-huggers’ and ‘nature-freaks’. When Blu convinces the birds to line up with Linda and Tulio, together they start an attack against the loggers and their machinery. In line with Hollywood’s tradition of ‘happy endings’, this specific part of the rainforest eventually becomes a wildlife reserve.
The Amazon Rainforest is one of earth’s most endangered ecosystems due to illegal logging and farming. Rio 2 portrays this problem quite well by displaying a conflict between two types of human groups: the loggers who are only focused on business and making money and don’t care for the environment, while Linda and Tulio care for the environment and the animals residing within.
Just like Rio (Saldanha, 2011; see Website), Rio 2 raises the issue of extinction and preservation of endangered species. Both films claim to demonstrate the importance of biodiversity—for example when in Rio 2 Blu is called ‘a human’s pet’ that has to emancipate from domestication—but fail since all birds are given human traits, emotions and intentions. This anthropomorphic representation of animals is typical for Hollywood animation films.
Another problem with this movie is that the important themes of deforestation and biodiversity stay in the background. The film jumps between a bunch of subplots, musical sequences and visual spectacle which have nothing to do with the well-being of the environment. This is also one of the reasons why this movie has been mostly negatively reviewed. But behind all the poorly directed contents, there is—one might argue—still a positive message about the intersection of nature and our footprint on it.