Sequel to the hit 2001 kidpic, “Taina 2” reprises earlier chapter’s strengths — most notably splendid widescreen lensing of Brazilian rainforest locations — while making modest improvements via greater emphasis on action rather than broad comedy. For all their cuddly eco-consciousness, these pics bear about as much relation to the real world as “Bomba, the Jungle Boy” chapters did a few generations ago. That won’t stop femme wild child’s slick further adventures from raking multiformat coin in the numerous territories that embraced the first entry.
Now a lissome 13-year-old, Taina (Eunice Baia) has become elder to a tribe of younger forest dwelling Indian tots whose lack of visible parentage goes unexplained. She has her hands full not only leading them, but foiling illegal loggers and poachers. Chief nemeses are a quartet headed by ruthless Ms. Zuzu (Chris Couto), who sends her flunkies out to trap rare animals. A crack shot with bow and arrow, indigenous spoiler Taina is No. 1 on their most wanted list.
Taina’s returning juve thesp having become a tall, rather pokerfaced adolescent since the original “Amazon Adventure,” the burden of cuteness is now spread among several characters. Among them are her littlest charge, spunky wannabe woman-warrior Catiti (Arilene Rodrigues).
Catiti yearns for a critter-companion of her own like Taina’s own wisecracking parrot Ludo. Her discovery of a feisty terrier who strays from the custody of young Carlito (Vitor Morosini), son to the area’s government-appointed nature sanctuary guardian leads to further adventures after Carlito sneaks off to rescue the mutt.
Ill-equipped to survive the jungle’s perils, Carlito finds himself depending on Taina’s know-how. But before she can get him home, they all must combat poachers Zuzu & co. Kinder-gentler sequel opts for reforming the bad guys rather than simply feeding them to the crocodiles.
Fast-paced progress provides plenty of critter color, some slapstick, and a few leaps into shamanic-sorcery fantasy. Tightened story keeps action more focused, and less-reliant on scatological yuks and adult caricatures.
Ace tech/design package is highlighted by Uli Burtin’s handsome lensing. For once, bloopers shown against final credits are genuinely funny, highlighting the unpredictable nature of both child and animal performers.