In a world where LGBTQ+ rights are under attack, Nimona stands as a funny, beautiful, and powerful story that champions acceptance. This film cleverly critiques traditional fairytale concepts while exploring themes of identity and the fight against oppression. Adapted from ND Stevenson’s Eisner Award-winning webcomic, Nimona brings together whimsical action, goofy jokes, and poignant emotional moments to create a rich and engaging experience.
The story is set in a science-fantasy realm where knights in shining armor protect their people using flying cars and laser cannons. This fusion of genres allows for creative visuals that evoke the same tongue-in-cheek sensibility as Shrek. However, it also serves as a platform to make a sharp political point about questioning hierarchy and the motives of those in power. With its futuristic medieval setting, Nimona immerses viewers in a world so rich that it wouldn’t be surprising if Netflix pursued an entirely original sequel.
Nimona is a twisted fairy tale that takes aim at the post-9/11 surveillance state. It cleverly uses the novel setting to depict a world consumed by fear and paranoia. The film skillfully references the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System, drawing parallels between the early 2000s and the fictional world of Nimona. Through its thought-provoking storytelling, Nimona challenges viewers to question authority and the impact of constant surveillance.
In the kingdom, the defenders known as the Institute traditionally come from noble bloodlines. However, when the queen makes an exception and knights enthusiastic street kid Ballister Boldheart, the stakes are immediately set. The knighting ceremony becomes a media spectacle that exposes the deep divides within the kingdom. The level of pageantry and betrayal creates a King’s Landing tournament mixed with the Oscars, but suitable for all ages.
Ballister, portrayed as a villain, teams up with Nimona, a shapeshifter, to form an entertaining odd couple. Their adventures shake the kingdom to its core and challenge the fantasy genre’s devotion to protecting the status quo. Nimona’s portrayal of their relationship is explicit, highlighting the sweet and complicated romantic bond between Ballister and Ambrosius Goldenloin. Eugene Lee Yang’s portrayal of Ambrosius provides a great contrast to Ballister’s anxious brooding, revealing the character’s inner turmoil.
Nimona explores themes of authenticity and allyship through Ballister’s relationship with Nimona. The film presents a heartfelt and funny portrayal of what it means to be an ally. Scenes like the Monopoly game emphasize the joy and freedom of being accepted as one’s true self. This message is further enhanced by the fact that Nimona’s creator, Stephenson, came out as trans, allowing the film to present transness more directly.
Nimona captivates viewers with its stunning animation and attention to detail. Whether in action sequences or quieter moments, the film immerses audiences in its fantasy police state setting. The use of music, from Metric’s “Gold Guns Girls” to haunting orchestral arrangements, further enhances the emotional impact. Nimona’s eyes, glowing to reveal her mischievous smile, add a striking visual element.
Nimona delivers a message of the importance of acceptance and challenging prejudices. While many kids’ movies touch on the theme of tolerance, Nimona goes beyond to show that sometimes all it takes is for one person to see you differently. In a world filled with fear and uncertainty, this message resonates with queer kids and their friends who may be navigating difficult times.