Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon tells the story of Ainbo, a young woman who longs to become a warrior. When she encounters two spirit guides—Dillo, a funny armadillo and Vaca, an oversized tapir—Ainbo believes that she finally has the help she needs to fulfill her destiny. However, when a mysterious menace threatens the Amazon Rainforest, Ainbo and her aides must set out to protect their home.
Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon feels like the amalgamation of many things we seen before. Part Moana, part The Lion King and even a little bit of Frozen blended together, the film clearly leans heavily upon their favourite Disney stories. What’s more, with an expanding mythology and different stories, there are times when the film simply feels like it has too many things going on to feel focused.
However, having said this, that’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable. There is a sweetness to Ainbo that carries the film, even in moments when the script feels like it wanders. Weaving a story of female empowerment, Ainbo has some fun characters to keep families entertained and yet still manages to explore the darkness that plagues us all. What’s more, Ainbo features some beautiful animation that is often a delight to behold. While simple in style, Ainbo’s use of colour and creativity bring a genuine pop to many of the film’s sequences that are worth watching. In fact, given the film’s natural setting, there’s a surprising amount of luminescent neon that lights up the screen.
Set in the depths of the jungle, Ainbo highlights the importance of protecting the Amazon. With an emphasis on the value of what the Amazon has to offer, Ainbo reminds us of the power of protecting a world in danger from the modern era. Without giving any spoilers, the real threat within Ainbo is not from the animal kingdom but rather those who seek to claim the resources for themselves. This is a film about responsibility and celebration of the natural world.
But that idea leads into Ainbo’s more surprising narrative.
Even though it’s focused solely on the Amazon world, there’s something ambitious in its scope. With an emphasis on spirituality, Ainbo highlights the value of wonder. For example, while Ainbo trusts in her spirit guides, few others believe her. To them, these are nonsensical ideas of the old ways that don’t really help them in their daily struggles. Even so, Ainbo is not deterred. To her, the world contains a spiritual wonder that also must be preserved. From the aid of her guides to the darkest of evils, Ainbo clings to the belief that there is more to the world than physical reality. It empowers her and give her strength. While the film isn’t always clear what the implications of these realities may be, there’s a little doubt that they matter. In this world, there is a spiritual battle between good and evil which invites Ainbo to step into her calling become the warrior that she was meant to be.
Although the film clearly does not have the budget or quality of Pixar or Illumination, there is still a certain sense of joy within Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon worth watching, especially as it leans into its darker elements. As Ainbo grows and matures, so too does the film allow itself to explore what it truly means to battle evil in a world of spiritual darkness.
Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon is available in theatres on Friday, August 12th, 2022.