Movie Review: Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon

Animated tale feels like it was cobbled together from scraps of top movies

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I’d call this animated adventure half-baked, but the truth is, it’s already been fully-cooked – just by other, better filmmakers.

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The recipe: Part Moana; the titular heroine, voiced by Lola Raie. A part Frozen; the brotherly bond shared by Ainbo and Zumi (Naomi Serrano). A part The Lion King; the comic relief animals Timon-and-Pumbaa-esque. A part Encanto; a curse that only one character can lift from their people.

There’s even a teaspoon of Avatarin the form of a magic tree and a greedy, pale-skinned colonialist villain – who, ironically, later transforms into a black-haired, blue-skinned creature that looks like it came out of a Pandoranian jungle.

What is missing is any sense of originality or charm. The characters have paper-thin motivations that remain hidden until a quick dose of exposition reveals them. “It’s time you learned the truth about your mother,” Ainbo says at one point, and his response is a gasp, “That’s all I ever wanted to know!”

Certainly, the animation is beautiful. But the story of a self-proclaimed teenage warrior trying to save her Amazon village from an ill-defined curse that’s killing her people and destroying the environment has none of the awe and wonder you’d expect. such a story. There’s not even a musical number. About the best thing that can be said about it is that it doesn’t feel like it was designed to be a cheap and lucrative counterfeit. I dare say the filmmakers put their hearts into it. But good intentions can only get you so far.

Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon opens August 12 in cinemas.

1.5 out of 5 stars