November 18, 2023 – I was surprised to find that this effective animated film was the product of development hell, at first slated for production some four years ago by Blue Sky Studios (“Epic,” “Ice Age” and “Spies in Disguise”) but was closed down after Disney bought the parent company, 20th Century Fox. The project was eventually revived by Annapurna Pictures, DNEG Animation and Netflix.
Based on a 2015 graphic novel by ND Stevenson, the story is set in a futuristic technologically advanced society with medieval trappings, such as knights in armor who protect a walled city from a monster not seen in a thousand years. The knights have always been selected from noble bloodlines, including one Ambrosius Goldenloin, a direct descendant of the legendary hero Gloreth, who originally banished the monster.
Ambrosius' boyfriend, Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed of “Sound of Metal”) is about to be the first commoner knighted in a thousand years, and many people are not happy with breaking tradition. The knighting ceremony goes horribly wrong. Queen Valerin is killed, Ballister is blamed, and he becomes a fugitive from the law.
One person comes forward to help Ballister, a young girl named Nimona. Nimona is also an outcast, and she empathizes with him. She is not what she seems. She is a shape-shifter capable of enormous destruction. She likes to break things. She views her mission as one of revenge on those who killed the Queen and who also made Ballister into an outcast.
Ballister needs to find out who really killed the queen and why. He also needs to obtain the proof he needs to set things right. Nimona is wild and almost uncontrollable, but Ballister realizes she might just be the person he needs to clear his name.
All kinds of complications arise when it turns out that Ballister and Nimona are opposed, not only by the might of an entire kingdom, but by a powerful opponent who is both ruthless and cunning. Ballister and Nimona are very good at getting themselves into more trouble, but Nimona also proves very adept at both rescue and escape.
Ballister is a nervous wreck, but Nimona (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz of “Kick Ass”) is fearless, and she has fun, even in the most dangerous situations. She also has a deep secret she has been keeping a long time. Her secret is the key to the fate of the entire kingdom. Both Ballister and Ambrosius are deeply confused about who is to blame for the Queen's death, and their confusion almost leads to a catastrophe.
Actions and policies based on fear almost always turn out very badly, and that is the case in this story. A thousand years of fear, based on a lie, is a hard thing to overcome, but it must be overcome in order to save the day.
The characters of Ballister and Nimona are very vivid and their relationship is what powers this movie. Also good is the Director of the Institute for Elite Knights (voiced by Frances Conroy of “Joker”) who is in charge of the city's defense. The movie's direction by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, and its screenplay, by Robert L. Baird and Lloyd Taylor, are very compelling. This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.