Nimona (2023) Nick Bruno & Troy Quane

Transferred from the defunct Blue Sky Studios to Annapurna Pictures and Netflix, Nimona is an example of mainstream animation capable of problematizing and flipping its premise several times, proving that it can be used for a wider audience than ever. A work that we would like to see in cinemas, but nevertheless we should be glad that it was produced and distributed.

Fantasy about shapeshifting

In a context that is less and less determined, such as mainstream animation, in which reworking old ideas (not always and not only in the form of sequels and/or revivals of old franchises) now seems the norm, it’s nice to find a product from time to time , which turns out to be able to positively shift and mix cards. With this exactly Nimon, an animated adaptation of N. D. Stevenson’s graphic novel of the same name, combining classic fantasy themes (fantasy walled kingdom, dark creatures that threaten it, a cast of knights chosen as protectors) with a futuristic/cyberpunk setting. A synthesis of assumptions, which translates, in particular, into the history of the ancient kingdom, which for 1000 years has been guarded by a select detachment of knights, after a heroine named Gloreth expelled a terrible monster from its walls; a millennium later commoner Brutal Ballister is about to be knighted, the first man of base blood to be so honoured. However, it is during her appointment that the Queen is the victim of an attack that Ballister himself is unjustly blamed for; Forced to run and hide, the man is approached by Nimona, a young werewolf who decides to help him redeem himself and uncover the real culprits.

Rejection of Manichaeism

Nimona, two protagonists in an instant
Nimona, the two main characters at the time of the film

The first striking feature Nimon it is the already mentioned interesting combination of fantasy and futuristic assumptions, which expresses itself in the coexistence, without a solution of continuity, of cyberpunk scenography and medieval settings, legitimized by a narrative plot that, in its main features, has the typical structure of a fairy tale. . A structure that, however, as the story progresses, seemingly very simple at first, gradually becomes more complex and problematic, going so far as to overturn the initial premises more than once and redefine the characters, who thus manage to transcend the archetype, “betraying” him positively fundamentals. Keep in mind that this is not just the classic elegy of diversity, which in turn has become almost a “genre” in its own right and entered mainstream animation as an almost indispensable tool for the product’s edifying and enjoyable family ethic; here are the directors Nick Bruno AND Troy Quane (to their credit a spy comedy undercover spies), to reject any Manichaeism by dismantling and reassembling the structure of a classic fantasy story, as well as making an interesting reflection – with a metatextual bias – about the illusory nature of any happy ending and about “happily ever after”, which needs to be constantly contextualized and confirmed. . A construction that is in any case not without (avoiding the weakness of many recent Disney products in this) a clear dialectic between protagonists and antagonists that is problematized (even radically) throughout the story, never reducible to a vapid cautionary tale. .

(falsely) “inclusive” dystopia

Nimona, main character, Ballister and Ambrosius
Nimona, image with the main character, Ballister and Ambrosius.

In this sense, the production history Nimon, a project born under the auspices of Blue Sky Studios, put on hold after being acquired by Disney (who feared overtly LGBTQIA+ themes present in the story), and then canceled after the parent company closed the animation studio. company; all this before the final transition of the project under the auspices of Annapurna Pictures and Netflix and the long-awaited green light to production. A cautionary tale for anyone who, upon seeing the film, was tempted to label it with the familiar (and frankly sugary) product name “woke up” and associate it with Disney’s latest works in the name of useless and ahistorical stigmatization. “inclusive” topics. The only thing that unites the film of Nick Bruno and Troy Quane with works like the recent one. Strange world (or even if you want to extend the discussion to all products of the parent company, such as the Disney+ series Willow) – the presence of a homosexual love story – the one between the main character Ballister and his partner Ambrose – as the starting point of the story; but here, the inclusive and multi-ethnic nature of the realm in which the story takes place does not detract from its dystopian character, but even reinforces a sense of underlying unease. World Nimonlike something from the saga de black tower Stephen King (another happy blend of sci-fi and fantasy) has “moved on” by incorporating some minorities into its body but brutally excluding others, and justifying its almost invisible but no less pervasive oppression on dubious assumptions to say the least. .

Depth and ease of use

Nimona, nice shot from the movie
Nimona, a beautiful picture from an animated film

One of the strengths Nimon, a work that presents a script that is just as simple when taken apart and followed up after the vision is complete, is just as complex and layered in concept and narrative development. Marked in its core structure with an adventurous-comedy tone that makes it easily accessible to viewers of the most classic Western animation and family audiences alike, Bruno and Quane’s film reveals the depth and complexity of its characters. gradually during the vision, yielding to nothing in terms of spectacle and technical level, which remains decidedly high. First of all, credit must be given to the two directors for achieving this goal without the usual gratuitous quotes that continue to afflict much of modern animation (and beyond), using only oblique references to some historicized strands of sci-fi (cyberpunk, Japanese tokusatsu) and not let them dominate the heart of the story. The heart that beats with substance, in the story, in the narrative arc – in the protagonist Ballister – is believable and captivating, and in the development, tinged with chalk, and in the last part, with unexpected and sincere lyricism. It is a pity, of course, that we were not able to see it on the big screen – the film, after being shown at the Annecy Animation Festival, had a limited release only in the USA – but nevertheless, it is gratifying that a film like Nimon was created and somehow distributed.

Nimona, movie poster


Original name: Nimon
Director: Troy Quane, Nick Bruno
Country/year: USA / 2023
Duration: 102′
Type: comedy, fantasy, adventure, cartoon, science fiction, action
Throw: Beck Bennett, Chloë Grace Moretz, Lorraine Toussaint, Riz Ahmed, Frances Conroy, India Moore, Charlotte Aldrich, Christopher Campbell, Cindy Slattery, Eugene Lee Young, Julie Zachary, Julio Torres, Karen Ryan, Matthew J. Mann, Mia Collins, Nate Stevenson, Nick Bruno, Randy Trager, RuPaul, Sarah Sherman, Sommersil Tarabek, Troy Kuan, Zayaan Kunawar
Screenplay: Robert L. Baird, Lloyd Taylor
Assembly: Randy Traeger, Erin Krakel
Music: Christoph Beck
Director: Roy Lee, Karen Ann Ryan, Nate Stevenson, Corey Turner, Julie Zachary
Production house: Annapurna Photos, Annapurna Animation
Distribution: Netflix

Release date: 06/30/2023


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Journalist and film critic. I am or have collaborated with various web and print publications including (in chronological order) L’Acchiappafilm, and Since 2018, I have been a consultant for the Stelle Diverse and Aspie Saturday Film psychoeducational reviews organized by the CuoreMenteLab in Rome. In 2019, I founded the Asbury Movies website, of which I am the Editor and Managing Director.

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