“Find your way home.“
The somewhat recently by Universal Pictures acquired animation studio Dreamworks Animation, who we all know from box office and critical success franchises such as ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ and ‘Shrek’, is back with a new story that tries to win over young audiences with its cuteness-factor and older audiences with its more grown up message. But do these two work well together, in this collaboration with Shanghai-based production company Pearl Studio?
Abominable tells the story of a yeti, who has been captured by a wealthy explorer and his team of scientists. When the yeti breaks out of tycoon Burnish’s (Eddie Izzard) secret laboratory, he ends up hiding on the roof of an apartment complex. Yi (Chloe Bennet) lives with her mother (Michelle Wong) and Nai Nai (Tsai Chin), but is barely home. She escapes the daily nagging of the women who put food on the table, by secretly walking neighbours dogs and taking out the trash of surrounding small businesses for a little bit of cash. Yi is saving for a trip around China, something she’s always wanted to do with her father, until he passed away. When Yi comes home late at night, she usually escapes to her little lit up fort made out of blankets and crates, on the roof of the building she lives in. Here she finds comfort and solace, burying the noise of the busy streets of China, with the masterful melodic sounds of her violin. But this evening, she’ll meet Everest the yeti (named after his home, Mount Everest), wounded and scared of everything human. It’s up to Yi and her neighbours – cousins Peng (Albert Tsai) and Yin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) – to help Everest cross China, through deserts and mountains, to find his way back home.
Dreamworks/Pearl Studio’s newest vehicle has a bit of a slow start. The animation doesn’t look too refreshing and some of the dialogue and voice work is a bit stiff. That’s only because Dreamworks has made some great animated classics, and of course adults are going to compare. But are children doing the same? I think children will love the fluffy yeti, who acts like a child, because that’s what he is. When we finally see Everest and the gang of kids escape the city to embark on an epic adventure, this is where the film won me over. The authentic scenery and magical tricks of Everest, make Abominable a film worth seeing.
The story tackles grief. Yi is clearly struggling with the death of her father, and the way she goes through some stages of it, is done in a very subtle and simple way, even the smallest of children can understand. It goes without saying, combined with the adorable yeti and a friendship that only becomes stronger, a few tears were shed in the second half of the film. A nighttime scene, in which our group of friends cuddle up under a by-fireflies-lit-up-tree, is one of the most wonderfully beautiful scenes I’ve seen in an animated film in a very long time.
Abominable slowly builds up, but becomes a warm family adventure, that takes you on a dandelion flight through the mountains of Huang Shan and on a cloud coy fish ride over the Yunnan Province to fully captivate the magic of this grounded tale of grief and friendship.
Review – Abominable
Reviewed at Event Cinemas, Sydney, Sept. 25, 2019. CBA Rating: G. Running time: 97 min.
PRODUCTION: A Universal Pictures release, presented with Dreamworks Animation, in association with Pearl Studio. Producers: Suzanne Buirgy, Peilin Chou, Dave Polsky. Executive producer: Tim Johson.
CREW: Director: Jill Culton. Co-director: Todd Wilderman. Screenplay: Jill Culton. Camera (color, widescreen): Robert Edward Crawford. Editor: Susan Fitzer. Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams.
WITH: (voice cast) Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Joseph Izzo, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin, Michelle Wong.