Film: "The Angry Birds Movie 2"; Director: Thurop Van Orman; Voice Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Rachel Bloom, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Eugenio Derbez, Awkwafina, Sterling K. Brown, Tiffany Haddish, Nicki Minaj, Jo Jo Siwa, Zach Woods, Dove Cameron; Rating: ***
The subtlety of "anger" in this animated sequel, inspired by the popular Angry Birds games available on mobile devices and other platforms, is amazing.
On the face of it, the film appears as a well-worn, action-packed formula kiddie fare with its usual lively characters and fun-filled episodes. But dig deep into the layers of the plot and you will find an angry bird who is livid for being dumped on her wedding day.
The plot once again takes us to the setting of the original 2016 film, where there are ballistic battles between the inhabitants of the avian paradise, Bird Island, led by the short-fused anti-hero Red (Voice of Jason Sudeikis) and their green-hued porcine enemies on Pig Island, led by the boorish Leonard (Voice of Bill Hader).
But this time round, the two islands are under threat from the nearby volcanic Eagle Island, where Zeta (Voiced by Leslie Jones), the embittered, purple plumed Cruella de Vil of the Eagle world plans to conquer both Bird Island and Pig Island, because her own island is "too cold" and she''d like her private tropical playgrounds.
How the two former enemies join forces to defeat their common foe, forms the crux of this film. With Red, Bomb, Chuck, Silver from the Bird Island and Leonard, Courtney and Garry from Pig Island banding together to destroy Zeta''s "super weapon" and thwart her scheme, the film in essence becomes a cartoon version of "The Seven Samurai".
At this point, the narrative gets fast-paced. It is somehow looser, more disjointed and yet, deeper than the first. The subplots flit from set pieces to set pieces that include romance, chick-adventure, bird dating to dancing eagles.
Humour comes in the form of wise-cracks, crazy slapstick and reliably lowbrow gags; highlights of which include an attempt to steal an eagle''s ID card at a urinal and a breakdance battle that comes out of nowhere and is resolved in an even stranger fashion.
The film surprisingly deals with real emotional quandaries, like abandonment issues, rage, scorn and self-worth. It ekes out the obligatory feminism-like message that girls are just as smart as boys. It also tells us of teamwork and forgiveness and if we could only put aside our differences, we might save the world.
Thus, the script is more functional than witty and the dialogues certainly do not match the target audience of the film. While teenagers would relate to the spoken words, kids and adults will not find the conversation amusing.
Visually, the frames are packed with plenty of garish colours. The three locales are distinct by their flavour. Also, the superb steampunk production design nudges the Angry Birds cinematic universe closer to established animated franchises like "Despicable Me" or "The Incredibles". Apart from the sets, the extended sequence featuring a Trojan Horse-style eagle costume is a great knockabout comic set pieces for all ages.
On the auditory front, the film boasts of a broad list of starry vocal talents including Peter Dinklage as the Mighty Eagle, Maya Rudolph as Matilda, Danny McBride as Bomb, Nicki Minaj as Pinki, Awkwafina as Courtney and Sterling K. Brown as Garry.
Overall, with sharp animation and mindless-escapism, "Angry Birds Movie 2" is a rare, unexpected package where the entire family can enjoy with a huge tub of pop-corn.