‘Nimona’ Review: Fright the Power

A zingy, chintzy, idea-driven animated feature based on the ND Stevenson comic.

By Amy Nicholson

When you purchase a ticket for an independently reviewed film through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.

Imagine Bugs Bunny blended with the Joker and you’ll get a sense of Nimona, an impish, shape-shifting villain who presents as a pink-haired, miniskirted punk but prefers to buck description. “I’m not a girl, I’m a shark!” Nimona (voiced by a vibrant Chloë Grace Moretz) insists. At will, Nimona is also an otter, ostrich, rhinoceros, gorilla, girl-shaped humanoid, boy-shaped humanoid, kitty cat, pizza rat and blue whale who swallows its enemies and squirts them out of its blowhole with a filthy snicker.

Likewise, “Nimona,” a zingy, chintzy, idea-driven animated feature, was once a Tumblr comic, an art school thesis and an award-winning graphic novel (all three incarnations by the author ND Stevenson). Then, in 2021, it became an internet cri de coeur when Disney shut down production on a feature. Annapurna and Netflix stepped in, and the final film version, directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane from a script by Robert L. Baird and Lloyd Taylor, is a rush job with little resemblance to the much bleaker web comic. But it’s a vivid creature all its own.

The story is set in a futuro-medieval walled city with jumbotrons and knights who say, “Bro.” Fear has reigned for a millennium, ever since the hero Gloreth battled back a monster. Now, Gloreth’s Valkyrie-esque statue looms large over the populace, casting a shadow that extends over billboards that blare, “If you see something, slay something,” and an outlaw knight, Ballister Boldheart (Riz Ahmed), cowering in disgrace from a wrongful accusation of regicide.

Ballister yearns to be once again embraced by the kingdom, and his ex, the lustily named Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang), who broke Ballister’s heart and sliced off his arm. Enter Nimona, a bloodthirsty wrecking ball who wants to use Ballister to destroy the entire system. To do so, Nimona brings further shame upon the exile, even publicly claiming that Ballister likes — Egads! — freestyle jazz.

At first, the look (particularly the lifeless backgrounds) is so slapdash that you’re tempted to flee. But jokes litter the film like scattered Legos, making you hesitate long enough to appreciate how the light glints off Ballister’s armor-plated shoulders. Attention has been paid; it’s just not equally distributed. The tone is uneasy teetering on anarchic, veering from giddily moronic one-liners to — more shockingly — a climax with deep empathy and visual awe.

This is a big message film that wants audiences to reflect on social paranoia. At its heart, it’s a pointed allegory about politicians who build their national profile on the backs of queer and transgender children. Nimona the character doesn’t claim to speak for them, but does try to speak to them and to others grappling with the concept of what it might feel like when your shell doesn’t match your soul. “I feel worse when I don’t do it,” Nimona says of metamorphosing, “like my insides are itchy.” But the movie is also willing to poke fun at its own politics when, minutes later, Nimona sabotages a losing game of Monopoly with a comic rant about overthrowing our oppressors, and, as a capper, feigns sudden death.

Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. Watch on Netflix.


When you purchase a ticket for an independently reviewed film through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.

Movie data powered by IMDb.com

Site Index

Site Information Navigation

Source: Read Full Article