‘Ainbo’ Review: Saved by a Princess

The eponymous young huntress of this animated feature forges a plan to protect her village in the Amazon rainforest.

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By Beandrea July

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While “Ainbo” follows the royal family of Candamo, who lives in an Amazon rainforest village threatened by mining encroachment, it is the eponymous best friend of the princess who forges a plan to save them.

Ainbo (Lola Raie), a young huntress with her head in the clouds, nearly misses the coronation ceremony of her best friend, Zumi (Naomi Serrano), as princess of Candamo. Ainbo is busy hiking deep into the forest and on her way back to the ceremony meets a playful pair of unlikely “spirit guides,” Dillo (Dino Andrade), a comical armadillo and Vaca (Joe Hernandez), a sheepish tapir. Her late mother’s spirit has sent them to aid Ainbo in becoming the seasoned hunter she needs to be in order to save her people from the greed of DeWitt, a gold mining speculator masquerading as a botanist.

Directed by Jose Zelada and Richard Claus, this animated feature is at its best when it fills out the world of Candamo and its people with meticulous detail and lush color. The visual rendering of spiritual myths and gods give the film its primary bursts of energy. The main villain of “Ainbo,” for instance, takes inspiration from the Yacuruna archetype, the shape-shifting water-dwelling god (similar to Amphibian Man in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”).

But the vivid patterns of body paint and intricate costumes of Candamo’s royals, warriors and hunters have to contend with a generic plot that turns its complex subject matter and distinct characters into a predictable naptime preamble. The story dawdles through its first and second acts, but in its final third does find a more deliberate pace. One wishes it had been there from the start.

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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