“Nimona” feels like a dramatic checklist of the stylistic nuances and emotional beats of both the biggest hits from the animation studios of Pixar and DreamWorks. It features some mildly likable dad-friendly puns, sight gags, and a bunch of annoyances about questioning authority, being true to yourself, and other bumper-stick-ready slogans.
“Nimona” also contains a body of post-punk anthems and punk-adjacent music of varying quality, including at least one metrical song (“Gold Guns Girls”) and some guitar riffs by ex-Sex Pistols Steve Jones. . The characters, whose designs were partly modeled after the styles of early Disney background artist Eyvind Earl and “minimal realist” painter Charlie Harper, flit around the screen with a sufficiently observed, fluid grace that you remember. Let us tell you that many passionate animators have created and put serious thought into the making of this film. Unfortunately, many of the main characters’ facial expressions seem more like dutiful imitation than a convincing medium for the characters’ emotions – “Nimona” was based on ND Stevenson’s graphic novel. Their hearts are in the right place, but their mouths—and doe eyes, and glass-cutting jaws—only talk talk.
Case in point: while Nimona clearly matters to the plot and the themes elaborated broadly, she’s ultimately determined with the kind of backstory that even Nimona scoffs at in the opening scene. She laughs at Ballister’s paternalistic concern and also avoids easy typecasting herself by shrugging off his “small minded questions”. She says Nimona’s reason doesn’t matter, but ultimately she provides an origin story afterward, which apparently endears her to us even more. He is not a monster, as Ballister fearfully believes, but a well-intentioned misfit. Nimona is also Ballister’s only friend, who mysteriously fires a laser from the hilt of his sword at the Queen, killing her instantly.
You may have questions about that sudden and surprisingly dark plot twist, but not much has developed about “Nimona” beyond accurately narrated dialogue and well-designed animation. It is not a bad film in the sense that it is poorly made. But it often leaves something out whenever the characters talk or offer details, which can lead you to feel drawn to Ballister and his proudly irreverent partner. For example, she’s got a concerned but fearful partner, Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Li Yang), a fellow knight who is also different from Ballister because he is a descendant of the legendary hero Gloreth. In contrast, Ballister is a normal person, which briefly makes him look like an underdog.