Review: Nimona


Who’s bad, who’s good, and what’s the truth? These are life’s questions. But, as this film says, “If you want a happily ever after you are going to have to wait, because the monsters are always out there.”

Isn’t that the truth?

“Nimona” is an animation feature full of intelligent, clever mind-spins about Ballister Boldheart, who appears to assassinate the queen at the ceremony where she consecrates him as a knight of the realm. “There is no greater calling than protecting the kingdom from evil.” What that evil may be, why the queen was really killed and how the kingdom is transformed will strike home in this multi-faceted, ground-breaking tale for all ages.

The first gradual, unexpected revelation is that the real hero in this journey is not Ballister, but a rambunctious, aggressive shape-shifter named Nimona. Approximately 1,000 years ago, she made a wish at a wishing well when she was a little girl. She had wanted to have more friends so she was given the ability to transform into different animals and humans. But, with another twist of the winds, instead of more friends this “gift” caused chaos and fear, because it made her different.

“Nimona” is a nuanced PG-rated animation that questions the very nature of existence. Its hero, Nimona (great new feisty voice by Chloe Grace Moretz), befriends Ballister when he becomes public enemy No. 1. She sees they have this vilification in common because her shape-shifting gift has targeted her as a monster by the realm.

But who or what is really the monster in this movie?

The heir to leadership in the realm, The Director, states the importance of “protecting our way of life.” But Nimona counters angrily, “They believe that being a hero is that you can drive a sword through anything different. Everyone in this kingdom wants to run a sword through my heart.”

This is ground-breaking film-making. The socio-political analogies are multitudinous. From false fears, manipulation of public perceptions and vilification of talents and gifts deemed monstrous because they veer from the norm (not because they hurt anyone), this film will stop you short. When The Director orders her cannon turned on the city, knowing half the city will die, in order to kill the monster, we see that care for the citizens is less important that routing out the one threat to her extremist views.

This is a leap in human liberation thinking. The unfolding concepts of identity, love, honesty, integrity and good and evil are richly wrapped up in this hero’s journey to reject social repression and embrace humanity in its diversity.

Nominated by both the Oscars and the Online Film Critics Society for best animation, “Nimona” ushers in a brave new world that questions the tribal status quo of what makes up our “way of life” and gives us a fresh reassessment of our own social structures.

Rating: 10/10


Directors: Nick Bruno and Troy Quane
Screenplay: Robert L. Baird and Lloyd Taylor
Story: Robert L. Baird, Lloyd Taylor, Pamela Ribon, Marc Haimes, Nick Bruno, Troy Quane and Keith Bunin
Based on the graphic novel “Nimona” (2015) by ND Stevenson
Voices: Chloe Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed, Eugene Lee Yang and Frances Conroy
Editors: Randy Trager and Erin Cracker
Music: Christophe Beck
Production Company: Annapurna Pictures
Release: June 23, 2023
MPAA Rating: “PG for violence and action, thematic elements, some language, and rude humor.”
How to view: Netflix

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