AINBO: SPIRIT OF THE AMAZON: 2 ½ STARS. “Action packed with a plucky female lead.”
“Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon,” a new animated film for kids from Peru, and now playing in theatres, has a lot going for it. There’s a very kid friendly run time of just over 80 minutes, some cool creatures and an Indigenous perspective. It’s a shame that much of that goodwill is undone by generic animation and storytelling.
The Amazonian village of Candamo is home to brave teen Ainbo (Lola Raie) and her best friend, the soon-to-be-crowned Princess Zumi (Naomi Serrano). The town, and its elders, like Atok (Rene Mujica), have grave concerns about the future of the home. It is a lush, beautiful world, but is endangered by exploitive developers and a failing ecosystem.
When two spirit animals, an armadillo named Dillo (Dino Andrade) and a tapir called Vaca (Joe Hernandez) visit Ainbo, they tell her the evil jungle spirits the Yacaruna, and their curse, can be defeated with a special root found only in the rainforest. The info sets her off on a quest to save the only home she’s ever known. Her friends may have given up oin the traditional ways, but her belief in the Yacaruna keeps her moving forward.
You may get a slight sense of déjà vu while watching “Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon.” The spirited animated movie owes a debt to “The Lion King” with an homage to “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” thrown in for good measure.
Action packed with a plucky female lead, the adventures are sometimes too frenetic and the messages that drive the action are perplexing—what is the biggest threat to the village; man, myth or a worsening ecosystem?—but while it may be familiar thematically, the movie’s good-natured feel makes it feel less like a knock-off or direct-to-DVD flick.