Ainbo is a young woman who lives in the Amazon Rainforest. While life around her seems simple and pretty, a horrible curse has plagued the people and the land of the Amazon for many years. The cause of the curse is unknown, but many people within the village hope it will somehow be broken one day. We discover right from the start of the film that Ainbo has a lot to learn in life. As a hunter, she is somewhat clumsy and inexperienced. She also questions many mysteries relating to her past, including her mother’s strange disappearance. When Ainbo’s best and closest friend becomes the new leader of their tribe, their friendship starts to get tested.
One night, Ainbo gets new clues about her past and mother, just before an unusual death occurs within the village. Ainbo is blamed for the death, forced to go on the run, and begins a whole new, unexpected journey. But thankfully, she won’t have to go alone. Her Spirit Guides join her, taking the form of an Armadillo named Dillo, and Vaca, a witty and extremely large Tapir. Together, they go on an adventure to try and prove Ainbo’s innocence and hopefully save their home from the evil curse once and for all. Perhaps she will also gain new information about her past and her mother, changing her life forever.
Ainbo: Amazon Princess has a basic yet pleasing animation style. The film is certainly colourful and bright, and character designs are positive and fun to see. Some character aspects are slightly questionable, including the voice work, especially from the leading character Ainbo. This voice sounds very different in the first act compared to the second and third acts due to editing. Facial expressions of key characters are also weaker than many would prefer to witness.
The film’s plot carries an odd mixture of themes and subplots. Ainbo is on a quest to find the truth about her mother, prove her innocence, mend her friendship- oh, and save the entire Amazon. The film struggles to remain on one topic, instead moving back and forth between subplots, making the plot feel messy and crammed. It also feels highly familiar to titles such as Moana, Lion King, Jungle Book and even The Never-Ending Story instead of bringing a fresh family film. Ainbo’s spirit animals are close to being a cheaper version of Timon and Pumba. It’s disappointing to see the combination of these films in the story as these familiar moments distracted me.
Ainbo: Amazon Princess is made and created for a much younger audience, and for some parents, this film could be a highly painful experience. However, if you’re a young child, you will generally enjoy this film. But even though it is aimed at younger children, I was shocked to see horror type themes that were borderline unsuitable, in my opinion, for young audiences. By this, I’m referring to the film’s villain. The villain is an evil demon who takes the form of a human man that enjoys walking around with evil, red, glowing eyes. Not only this, he has the power to overtake people, turning their eyes white and transforming them into zombie-like humans. I felt it was a bit odd and creepy for a film that’s aimed at a young audience.
Overall, as a family film, it’s sad to see something that’s highly familiar to other titles instead of delivering something new and exciting on its own. This film is aimed at a much younger audience, making it slightly painful for the parents that see it. The animation style is basic and has pleasant moments, but voice work and expressionless characters are questionable. As a kid’s film, the main evil villain was an unusual choice that could unsettle some younger viewers, making it highly confusing about who its audience truly is. Loaded with many subplots, the film struggles to stay on target as it rolls in multiple directions, to the point the entire film feels messy and muddy. Ainbo: Amazon Princess (2021) is Available in Australian Cinemas from September 16th!