Netflix’s latest original animated feature, Nimonanow it’s streaming, but should i give it a watch?
Based on the New York Times bestselling graphic novel of the same name by ND Stevenson, Nimona is set in a futuristic medieval monarchical kingdom guarded by knights for centuries since the land was attacked by a fire-breathing monster and protected by its deified savior, Gloreth.
During that time, each knight has been a descendant of Gloreth and the original knights that she trained long ago, until today. Ballister (voiced by Oscar-nominated actor Riz Ahmed), the best of the class of new knights that includes Ambrosia Goldenloin, a descendant of Gloreth and Ballister’s lover, was chosen by the queen to be trained as a knight despite the fact that he he is a commoner who does not belong to the lineage. chosen by Gloreth. On the day of his knighting ceremony, he is found when her sword fires a mysterious laser shot into the Queen’s body, killing her instantly. Forced to act for the murder, Ambrosia cuts off Ballister’s arm, causing him to run from the crime she did not commit.
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Now living in hiding with everyone against him, Nimona (Chloe Grace Moretz), a mischievous shapeshifter shunned as a monster by society, approaches Ballister to be his new partner. Though she trained her entire life to destroy creatures like Nimona, she reluctantly agrees as they embark on a havoc-wreaking adventure to try to clear Ballister’s name and punish those responsible for the Queen’s death.
With the adaptation rights acquired in 2015, the production of Nimona was a long and difficult task. Originally set at 20th Century Fox with its award-winning production and animation team at Blue Sky Studios, the film suffered many delays after the Walt Disney Company acquired Fox. The project was canceled in 2021 after Disney shut down Blue Sky, but many of former employees claim the film was 75% complete and may have been unfairly maligned after its LGBT themes received pushback from Disney leadership. The film was picked up in spring 2022 by Netflix and Annapurna Pictures with DNEG Animation as the new animation studio. Having worked on the project since 2020, Nick Bruno and Troy Quane would sign on as directors for the film with Robert L. Baird and Lloyd Taylor rewriting the script.
Even with so many outside forces trying to never get this movie out there, Nimona persisted and I’m glad she did. With a unique blend of medieval lore and lore alongside modern technology and culture, the film creates a unique story of morality and honor with clear messages about institutional fear and hardship inflicted on queer communities and those with fluid identities.
Using the change of shape as an allegory for those messages, Nimona joins the ranks of its award-winning animated peers: 2012 Brave and 2020 wolf walkers – as successful examples of films geared toward helping tweens and early teens help them understand the dangers of othering, challenge the basis of discrimination on display, and facilitate change in the face of cultural norms.
Although the film deals with many complex themes in its background, the simplicity in its delivery and relationship building should ultimately win over its audience. The basic need to be seen and searched for without judgment serves almost all of the main characters in the story and can be easily digested by your target audience without the need for a heavy hand.
“I don’t know what’s scarier… The fact that everyone in this kingdom wants to put a sword through my heart… or that sometimes… I just want to leave them.” – Nimona
«I see you, Nimona, and you are not alone.» – Ballista
These quotes from the film’s central characters illustrate the isolating scaremongering and otherness can bring, and how simple, kind words can help us back from the brink.
While its strengths clearly lie in the storytelling, character design, and voiceover talents of Moretz and Ahmed, the film is not without its faults. Some clunky world building, especially in its opening act, and some inconsistent animation and production design keep the film from being among the elite peers that were mentioned in its story design class. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the film got award consideration throughout the year.
In general, Nimona it balances humor, action, and mythic lore with its central themes of fluid identity, isolation, otherness, morality, and opposition to controlling institutions that breed exclusion and intolerance. Although they may not be as prominent or celebrated as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-VerseNetflix’s production in the animated feature area is off to a stellar start in 2023 with this film and The Wizard’s Elephant and they should be contenders for year-end awards.
Look Nimona If you like:
- wolf walkers
- wendell and savage
- The Mitchells against the machines
Netflix MVP Nimona
CHLOE GRACE MORETZ as NIMONA
Voice-over acting is not normally applauded in the same way as its live-action counterparts; However, in the case of Nimona’s character, it requires a delicate balance of aggression and vulnerability that only actors with impressive range can convey. Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Carrie, Hugo), who is also known for her vocal support of the queer and trans communities, has shown an ability on screen to transform from roles of intense action and emotion to sweeter performances. and open. Her past performances have helped her take on the character of Nimona, who continues to bet on a society that continually excludes «freaks» like her.
PLAY, PAUSE OR STOP?
Spider-Verse may well dominate the animated conversation until awards season later this year, but Nimona you have a real chance to make a lasting impact on your messages of tolerance, morality and subversion of cultural norms. The partnership between Ballister and Nimona can teach us all something about keeping an open heart and accepting others for who they are.