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The vivid characters in the sprightly animated Nimona go a long way in making you care for what happens on-screen but alas it’s the run-of-the-mill plot that lingers longest in the mind.

Any writer will tell you that a project is doomed if you cannot invest in the characters as an audience. In that regard Nimona is a perfect example of great screenwriting, as not only the titular antihero but the main supporting players as well feel like unique, rounded characters you'd happily spend 90 minutes with.

The animation style, halfway between computer game graphics and traditional handdrawn animation, takes a while to get used to and looks cheaper than it probably intended to do but it certainly draws you into Nimona's intriguing world, perhaps best described as a kind of steampunk medieval kingdom.

For the first half of the picture this makes for entertaining viewing, with plenty of standout moments that neatly set up a premise of a disgraced knight protesting his innocence with the help of a shapeshifting pubescent girl. Yet in Nimona's second half the plot, the morality and the overarching themes bring so little new perspectives to the tale annoyance starts to set in.

There are still cute, personal touches sprinkled throughout - a nuanced subplot about a gay relationship is particularly well executed - but it's not enough for Nimona to shake off the feeling that the film is riffing on subjects handled with more innovation and poignancy in other movies.

So all in all, while there is plenty to applaud in Nimona, the picture is unlikely to leave an indelible mark on viewers.

release: 2023

director: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane

starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed, Eugene Lee Yang, Frances Conroy


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