Despite its frantic antics, this family animation from Peru is told from the welcome perspective of indigenous characters
Here is a family animation from Peru that spins a magical tale in the Amazon with a cast of mythological creatures from rainforest legend – and importantly, it’s told from the perspective of indigenous characters. It’s a shame, then, that so much here feels blandly generic, with frantic antics and quirky sidekick characters that kids have seen in a dozen movies before. Just as disappointingly, its plucky heroine Ainbo looks a bit plasticky: she’s a full-of-beans girl in the tradition of Moana – strong-willed and brave of heart – but she reminded me of an LOL Surprise! doll, with her adorable big eyes, cute crop-top and fashiony blunt fringe.
Still, there is a sense of adventure as Ainbo – an apprentice hunter from a tribe deep in uncharted rainforest – strikes out on her own to save the village. (You would too, it looks like a luxury spa resort from a Condé Nast Traveller feature.) The whole place has been cursed by an evil forest demon, the Yacuruna, a shapeshifting plume of black smoke with glowing red eyes (he might be too frightening for little ones).
The trouble is that Ainbo’s tribe has given up on the old legends. No one believes her stories about the Yacuruna or that she has two spirit animals to help her: a scrawny, fast-talking tapir and a dimwit armadillo. Ainbo’s quest takes her to a mythical giant turtle, Motelo Mama, then on to a grumpy sloth. The plot is manic with a well-meaning but muddled eco theme; one minute the threat to Ainbo’s village is logging and illegal mining, the next it’s the Yacuruna, which feels like a bit of a cop out. Surely even preschoolers are not too young for the message that humans are to blame?
- Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon is released on 27 August in cinemas