While “Ainbo” follows the royal family of Candamo, who lives in an Amazon rainforest village threatened by mining encroachment, it’s the eponymous best friend of the princess who forges a plan to save lots of them.
Ainbo (Lola Raie), a young huntress along with her head within the clouds, nearly misses the coronation ceremony of her best friend, Zumi (Naomi Serrano), as princess of Candamo. Ainbo is busy climbing 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 assist Ainbo in becoming the seasoned hunter she must be as a way 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 individuals with meticulous detail and luxurious color. The visual rendering of spiritual myths and gods give the film its primary bursts of energy. The fundamental villain of “Ainbo,” as an illustration, takes inspiration from the Yacuruna archetype, the shape-shifting water-dwelling god (much like Amphibian Man in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”).
However the vivid patterns of body paint and complicated costumes of Candamo’s royals, warriors and hunters must contend with a generic plot that turns its complex subject material and distinct characters right into a predictable naptime preamble. The story dawdles through its first and second acts, but in its final third does discover a more deliberate pace. One wishes it had been there from the beginning.