A gay knight and a spunky shapeshifter both make a dream team.
“Nimona” is the new made-for-Netflix animated film, which is adapted from ND Stevenson’s graphic novel, and was originally under development from Blue Sky Studios, until the animation studio’s closure cancelled the project. But then, Annapurna Pictures revived it, DNEG gave its a 2D meets 3D quality, and Netflix distributes it.
It would have been the first Blue Sky Studios film to feature a gay leading character like Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed), who is a knight in a futuristic medieval world. You know the kind with the queens and knights, and cellphones and pizza. It’s also the kind of place that the geniuses from “Blade Runner” would love. And the kind that uses the “Banana Splits” theme song for a cereal which uses a traditionally animated mascot.
But “Nimona” is not without its laughs and vulnerabilities. The kind that loves “Shrek” with its aspects on FairyTales, the kind that loves “Tangled” with its comical characters, and the kind that isn’t afraid to find the right older kids and adults to target itself to.
Ballister is also in a relationship with another knight named Ambrosius Goldenloin (voiced by Eugene Lee Yang). And these two are up for knighthood from their honorable Queen Valerin (voiced by Lorraine Toussaint). That is until, Ballister’s sword kills her, and he’s labeled a murderer. It wasn’t his doing or intention, but everyone else, including the Director (voiced by Frances Conroy), thinks otherwise.
The only one willing to side with him is a spunky, young shapeshifter named Nimona (voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz), who, at first, is eager to see him as the villain society labeled him. She wants to be his sidekick more than anything, and with her skill sets (transforming into a shark, cat, bird, people, etc.), they can do anything. Maybe even clear his name.
I was expecting “Nimona” to be a mean-spirited good ride with a “Deadpool” meets “The Bad Guys” streak.” But I see it with the right tastes as “Shrek” and “Tangled.” It allows the young heroine to have her struggles as a shapeshifter, who is labeled a monster by humanity, while the knight tries to figure her out. And the voice work from both Moretz and Ahmed is delightful on all levels.
The animation allows us to see a medieval “Blade Runner” type world, as well as the attention to detail in the characters. They morph well with the antics and truths that come in. When CGI animated film take 2D approaches (like in “The Peanuts Movie,” “The Bad Guys,” and the “Spider-Verse” movies), it’s always eye candy, but there also has to be challenges and character development for us to engage in. And team players, like Nimona and Ballister, couldn’t be more engaging.
The movie was directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, whose previous feature was “Spies in Disguise,” released by Blue Sky Studios.” Both these animated films are about wanted fugitives and their faithful sidekicks, and they both allow the humor and pathos to kick in. Even if parts of the third act go on a little long, there’s still a lot of exuberance and attitude to have us enjoying these characters.
And when it comes to animated movies targeted for older kids, teens, and adults, they can be a little rough around the edges. But like a Sour Patch Kid, they can be sour and sweet. “Nimona” is a Sour Patch Kids movie.
Now Playing in Select Theaters and Streaming on Netflix This Friday.