Nimona (2023) – Movie Review and Summary (with Spoilers)

Title Card - Nimona (2023)

What better way to end 2023 Pride than a movie like “Nimona,” which reminds you how quickly hate spreads when powered by fear and the power behind being able to self-identify?


Film Summary

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For the first time in 1000 years, since the founding of the Knights sworn to protect the kingdom, a commoner might become a knight! This has caused a notable stir as only those descending from the original knights have ascended to knighthood. However, the tenacity of Ballister Boldheart as a child inspired Queen Valerin to change this, and with him honoring her giving him such an opportunity, he was the top of his class, even outdoing Ambrosius Goldenloin, who is the direct descendent of Gloreth, who led the knights and started it all.

However, at the knighting ceremony, something tragic happens. Ballister becomes a social pariah as he is forced to take the blame – with only a young being named Nimona willing to interact with him. Originally, it is because he is painted as a villain, which they know about being oh too well, but as Ballister seeks to clear his name and discover who or what framed him, Nimona goes from someone hoping to tap into Ballister’s darkness for vengeance to adapting his faith in people and trying to learn, or re-learn, not only what it means to be a hero, but a friend and to know love.

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Ballister

Baltasar (Riz Ahemd)
“Baltasar (Riz Ahemd),” Nimona, directed by Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, 2023, (Netflix)

At one time, a commoner with no name, Ballister was an outlier and a questionable choice to become a knight. However, as he proved himself in his training, Ballister slowly became a symbol of hope within a monarchy, and it seemed like he would be as much a beacon for change as Gloreth until his sword killed Queen Valerin.

Queen Valerin

Queen Valerin (Lorraine Toussaint)
“Queen Valerin (Lorraine Toussaint),” Nimona, directed by Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, 2023, (Netflix)

While not much, or anything, is told to us about the Queen, beyond her willingness to let a commoner become a knight, she appears to be well-loved and seemingly without heirs or a king.

Ambrosius Goldenloin

Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang)
“Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang),” Nimona, directed by Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, 2023, (Netflix)

Ambrosius is a descendant of Gloreth, which naturally makes him a big deal. However, to Ballister, he is just his boyfriend, who is adorable and not as good of a swordsman as he is.

Gloreth

Legend holds Gloreth as an unfathomable hero who protected the kingdom from the outside world’s dangers – but how much is a true story, and how much can be contributed to embellishments over time?

Nimona

Nimona (Chloe Grace Moretz)
“Nimona (Chloe Grace Moretz),” Nimona, directed by Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, 2023, (Netflix)

It isn’t 100% clear what Nimona’s origins are or how she became a shapeshifter, but that’s the point. Nimona wants you to focus on the now, not the how or why, for she is there right in front of you, giving you all you need to know about who she is. The rest isn’t required to be friendly or friends with her.

The Director

The Director (Frances Conroy)
“The Director (Frances Conroy),” Nimona, directed by Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, 2023, (Netflix)

The head of “The Institute,” The Director, was part of every knight’s training and is tasked with keeping the kingdom safe from any threats, internal or external.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “The Tale” and their role in “Joker.”

Review

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Notable Performances or Moments

Nimona’s Humor

A lot of writers try to make funny lines and characters, and between the voice actor or the lines themselves, any humor is lost. That isn’t the case with “Nimona.” Grace-Moretz’s delivery allows nearly all puns to land and jokes to at least get a chuckle, and while no comedic moment is so good it will become a catchphrase or something you’d repeat to others, it quickly makes you fall for Nimona’s charm and understand there is more to her than being a pink shapeshifter.

The Different Relationships

Whether you talk about Ballister’s relationship with Ambrosius, his with Nimona, or how Ambrosius finds himself challenged by his relationship with The Director and the people? “Nimona” wants you to understand the complexities that come with your private life and thoughts not matching your actions in public.

For example, Nimona is someone Ballister seems weary of but okay with in private when they first meet, but in public? Her being so bold, so out there, is uncomfortable for him. This shouldn’t be lost on anyone since, with Ballister being a gay man, him wanting someone to be a smaller, more acceptable to society is an allegory within itself.

However, you can even submit that while Ballister and Ambrosius are together, it is often in secret. The reveal they are close comes with them sharing a private moment away from anyone’s eyes. Each time the two share a scene, there is a sense of a shared secret but a closeness all can see. It makes it so that as you watch “Nimona” and note where the kingdom is progressive and where it is close-minded, it helps you understand why some fears develop and others don’t.

Take note of The Director – it doesn’t appear she cares about homosexuality, for nothing is guiding her to. She cares about safety, protection from the outside world, and what is different. And it is her relationship with fear, how she plays off Ballister and Ambrosius which helps you understand how easy it can be to galvanize people to other or ostracize something or someone, especially when their existence is misunderstood.

It Can Be As Simple Or Complex As You Want It To Be

With that said, in some ways, “Nimona” doesn’t have to be that deep. A lot of what has been said can easily go over a kid’s head, and they can just see Nimona as an anti-hero type, Ballister as wrongfully accused, The Director as a villain, and Ambrosius caught in the middle. Which, to us, gives “Nimona” the ability to have repeat viewing potential. If it can evolve with its audience, it can mean different things at different stages of their lives.

Nimona, as a character, can just be wild and funny when someone is 8, but by the time they are 14 or 15, they could relate to not wanting labels and simply wanting their only identifier to be their name. By their mid-20s, they can envy the ability to transform and be what they want, and if they are gender fluid or non-binary, see themselves as a being without limitations, for they are everything.

This kind of versatility makes animation and stories like “Nimona” so important for current and future generations. For as much as many may still be uncomfortable with anything beyond what is cis and heteronormative, it’s a new age, and there is truly nothing to fear but those who refuse to accept any world that doesn’t adhere to the beliefs held within their bubble.

On The Fence

Lingering Questions Regarding Culture

The squire for the knights trying to pass a problem onto someone else
“Diego The Squire (Julio Torres),” Nimona, directed by Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, 2023, (Netflix)

A lot of the story is being around Gloreth and what she did or didn’t do. This makes it so, in terms of how the kingdom goes from being in the hands of Queen Valerin to The Director, you’re left asking questions. On top of that, considering how high-tech the kingdom is and what Nimona pushes us to question, you wonder what the outside world is like and whether the walls are impenetrable? Is there no form of trade with other kingdoms? Is the world beyond the walls just assumed to be filled with monsters?

These questions, and so many more, help you understand the pacing, Nimona’s energy, and the engaging story, do well in covering up all the “How?” and “Why?” questions you want to ask. But, as Nimona makes clear, questions like that are small-minded.

General Information

Director(s) Nick Bruno, Troy Quane
Screenplay By Robert L. Baird, Lloyd Taylor
Based On The Graphic Novel By ND Stevinson
Date Released (Netflix) June 30, 2023
Genre(s) Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, LGBT+, Animation
Film Length 1 Hour 42 Minutes
Content Rating Rated PG
Noted Characters and Cast
Nimona Chloe Grace Moretz
Baltasar Riz Ahmed
Ambrosius Eugene Lee Yang
The Director Frances Conroy
Queen Valerin Lorraine Toussaint
Gloreth Karen Ryan

Recommendations

If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. The Boxtrolls

Also, check our movies page for more recommendations and our latest movie reviews.

FAQs

What Is “Nimona” Rated And Why?

“Nimona” is rated PG and features some innuendo, cartoon violence, and a depiction of blood.

Where Can I Watch “Nimona?”

What Is Nimona?

From what it appears, she is an immortal shapeshifter considering she is over 1000 years old, and while she can recognize when she is in pain, it doesn’t strongly affect her.

Does Nimona Die In The End?

We’re originally led to believe Nimona sacrificed herself to stop The Director from destroying half the kingdom to kill her. However, the movie ends with Baltasar visiting where he hid out when accused of being a villain and Nimona greeting him off-screen.

What Becomes Of The Institute And The Knights?

It isn’t made clear if Baltasar’s worst fears come true, and the tyranny of the Director leads to the people no longer trusting the Institute or the knights. However, after the Director’s assumed death, it seems the kingdom does open itself up to the outside world.


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