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Nimona (2023) | Review

The Inclusive Oscar-Nominated Tale We All Need (and Deserve).

By Emma Chen

Rating: 5/5

By Nicktheirkenartist on deviantart.jpg

If my standards for pizza are high, my standards for animated films are higher, and Nimona (2023) managed to meet them. Set in a technological future that resembles Medieval times, the film follows the adventures of Nimona, a shape shifter—usually taking the form of a young girl, but able to become any other animal or human. She starts as the mean sidekick of Ballister, a knight wrongly accused of treason, and ends up being one of the coolest heroines I have seen on screen.

Nimona is everything that many other animated films are not lately: bold and inventive. Both its style—it uses 2D-style shading mixed with computer graphics—and its themes—science fiction and the Middle Ages, tradition, and homosexual characters—are so refreshing to watch and justify the film's recent Oscar nominations. 

What sets Nimona apart is its richly developed characters, particularly its protagonist. Her journey mirrors writer and producer ND Stevenson's own path of self-acceptance as bi-gender, making the struggles around identity and acceptance feel all the more poignant and authentic. 

The film is a thought-provoking exploration of society's obsession with labels and stereotypes. 

Through Nimona’s clever comments such as ‘I am today’ in reply to Ballister’s ‘And now you’re a boy?’, the film challenges us to question the status quo and embrace the beauty of fluidity. It's a powerful message delivered with wit, charm and just the right amount of irreverence. 

Nimona is in that sweet spot where its allegories and themes do not detract from the story's fun and simplicity. I watched it with my 7-year-old brother, and while he may not have picked up on all the symbolism behind it, he laughed, enjoyed the action, and actively cheered on Nimona. And that's on creating a product with different layers of depth that are enjoyable for everyone.

Visually, Nimona is a feast for the eyes. The film's inventive art direction blends elements of science fiction and medieval fantasy with stunning results. Each character is brought to life with vibrant energy and personality, making them a joy to watch. 

ND_Stevenson courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.jpg
In a world that often tries to force us into boxes, Nimona is a breath of fresh air—a reminder that it's okay to be different and that sometimes, being a little bit rebellious is exactly what the world needs. 

So, Pixar, Dreamworks, and the like, please hop on Nimona's momentum and start releasing stories like this one, because we all need more characters like her. It is undeniable that we are moving forward with more inclusive stories and characters like Dahlia in Wish (2023) and Ethan in Strange World (2022), but I have yet to see bigger productions taking a leap as Nimona did, and in a way that is so natural. 

If you're in the mood for a film that's equally as heart-warming as it is hilarious and thought-provoking, look no further than Nimona. With its compelling characters, engaging story, and powerful message of acceptance, it is sure to leave a lasting impression. After all, as Nimona herself would say, why fit in when you were born to stand out?


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