I actually own the original graphic novel by ND Stevenson but never got around to reading it, and then lo and behold, it became a movie. So I definitely had to check this one out, especially when I heard about how fun it is and how it has excellent queer rep. Here's what it's about:
A knight framed for a tragic crime teams with a scrappy, shape-shifting teen to prove his innocence. But what if she's the monster he's sworn to destroy?
Story: We've got a tale for the outsiders! In a sci-fi world inspired by the Middle Ages, Ballister Boldheart is a man who has worked his whole life in the Institute to become a knight. The thing is, in this land, knights are born into the role--commoners aren't allowed to partake...but Ballister is chosen to be an exception. He's ready to be knighted in service of the Queen when tragedy strikes--his sword turns into a gun and fires into the Queen, killing her. Ballister claims he is framed as the kingdom turns against him, and shapeshifter Nimona appears claiming to want to be his sidekick in evildoing. Both of them outcasts, they form a tenuous friendship as they work to prove Ballister's innocence and unravel the mysteries behind the Institute.
Characters: As always in animation, we have multiple characters in the story, and as always, I'm only going to focus on the main ones. Here we go!
The titular character, Nimona (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz) is a rebel, an outcast, and a shapeshifter who has lived most of her life alone and seeks out Ballister as a compatriot who is also alone. She constantly deals with people wanting her to be "normal," and worse, people treat her like she is a monster because she shape-shifts. This has been following her most of her life, and she tries not to let it get her down, but eventually succumbs to it in the story. Only Ballister is the one to bring her out of it before her heroism brings the people to her side.
I thought Nimona was a fun and sympathetic character. A bit hyper at times, but a lot of fun.
Ballister (voiced by Riz Ahmed) is also a sympathetic character because he has been working his entire life to be a knight in the Queen's employ, only to be framed for her murder...and it's all because he's a commoner, and that ruffled too many feathers. He has some growing to do, especially when dealing with Nimona, but he does it, and that's what makes him a good character.
Ambrosius (voiced by Eugene Lee Yang) is a descendant of the heroine Gloreth, who vanquished a monster 1000 years ago that threatened the kingdom. He's the golden boy of the knights (literally his armor is golden) and he is also Ballister's lover. He struggles over trusting Ballister's innocence and Nimona's role as Ballister's sidekick, so he has trouble being resolute, but that makes for some interesting conflict in the story with the characters.
The big bad of the show. Played by Frances Conroy, she is the head of the Institute and framed Ballister for the Queen's death, believing she was doing the kingdom a service by stopping the Queen from allowing commoners to be knights. She also is extreme in her handling of protecting the kingdom, willing to kill a sizeable chunk of the population just to be rid of the giant monster (aka Nimona) roaming the city streets.
Animation: The animation is fast-paced, frenetic, and playful. Every time Nimona shifts, the animation is fast and seamless.
I love how color is used in the series. The knights are sort of a dull but pure white, silver, and gold, while the city is bright and colorful, and Nimona's classic pink shines through even when she shapeshifts. It's a visually dazzling world and the character's facial expressions are also a treat to behold.
Voice Acting: The voice acting is top-notch. Moretz does an incredible job--in fact, I didn't know she was such a great voice actress until I watched this film--and Ahmed and Yang also do great jobs. There were no misses here at all. It was a delight to see.
Low Points of the Film: Sometimes the hyperactivity of the film was a little trying for me. Fast dialogue, fast animation...I appreciated it when the story slowed down.
High Points of the Film: Besides character facial expressions (particularly Nimona's), I thought the character interactions between Nimona and Ballister were really good. They played off of each other nicely. I also liked the message of the movie and how it dealt with people who always felt outside of society. Also, bonus points for representation with Ballister and Ambrosius--it's nice to see a world where queer relationships are normal and nothing to bat an eye at.
Final Thoughts: This was a fun romp of a film. I think it's great for families and older audiences to watch and you'll be entertained the whole time. It makes me want to read the comic, which is always good when an adaptation makes you hungry for the source material. Let me know if you saw Nimona and let me know what you thought in the comments!