“Abominable” stars Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin, and Michelle Wong. Released on September 27, 2019, the film is about a group of misfits who set out to reunite a Yeti with its family.
The film is written and directed by Jill Culton, who also directed “Open Season” and served as a storyboard artist for films such as “Toy Story”, “A Bug’s Life”, and “Shrek”. After spending weeks encountering nothing but adult-rated material, we are finally getting another animated family film courtesy of DreamWorks Animation. What’s even better is that it’s an original project that’s not based on an existing source material. This is actually the first time that DreamWorks Animation decided to come up with an original story since 2013 when they released “Turbo”, which wound up being a financial disappointment for the studio. That means they spent at least six years adapting source materials into feature films and expanding their popular franchises like “How To Train Your Dragon” and “Trolls”. So it’s actually quite nice to see that they’re still coming up with some original ideas for their audiences. This is also the latest DreamWorks Animation film to be produced by Pearl Studio (formerly known as Oriental DreamWorks), a Chinese production company that distributes the studio’s productions in China since their partnership began in 2012, such as “The Croods” and “Kung Fu Panda 3”, which was set in China like “Abominable”. I guess for DreamWorks, the art of animation is the best way to showcase some Chinese culture to the children. This was something that I was looking forward to this month because the trailers made it look like a cute adventure for all ages, but does it offer more than just its cuteness? Let’s find out.
The story centers on Yi (Bennet), a teenager in Shanghai who encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building. It turns out that the Yeti is hiding from an organization lead by Burnish (Izzard), a wealthy man who’s obsessed with finding it. With the help of her friends Jin (Trainor) and Peng (Tsai), Yi sets out on an incredible journey to reunite the Yeti with its family while attempting to stay one step ahead of Burnish and his zoologist assistant Dr. Zara (Paulson). Even though it’s safe to say that it’s an original film from DreamWorks, the concept of having a human befriending a creature is obviously a “been there, done that” scenario, resulting in the film having plenty of plot elements that don’t pack any big surprises in its storytelling, especially its generic antagonists. It’s almost as if the studio wanted to make another “How to Train Your Dragon”, but with Chinese elements. The poster said “From the studio that brought you ‘How to Train Your Dragon’” for a reason. If you go into the film expecting it to be the next “Shrek” or the next “Kung Fu Panda” or even the next “How to Train Your Dragon”, you’re not going to be completely satisfied with what it brought to the table. However, that doesn’t exactly mean that it’s not watchable. This is another film from DreamWorks Animation that focuses a bit more on its charm and simplicity rather than its in-depth storytelling, and while it’s something that might not appeal to everyone, it can surely appeal to people who wanted to take their kids to see a harmless animated feature. Ranging from its likable characters to its relatable message about the importance of family, the story in “Abominable” is just as fun and adorable as one might expect from a film about a four-legged magical Yeti. The voice cast did a very good job voicing their respective characters, especially Chloe Bennet as Yi. For those who don’t know, Bennet is mostly known for her role as Daisy Johnson from the ABC show, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, which I still thought was very enjoyable, by the way. I believe that this is her first big role in a feature film, let alone an animated film. If that’s the case, then I must admit that I highly respect her first impression. Tenzing Norgay Trainor and Albert Tsai were also wonderful in their roles as Jin and Peng, respectively. These two characters, along with the cute and furry Yeti Everest, offered the right amount of humor to entertain the little ones and their parents without being labeled as the bane of one’s existence by people who are very strict on this type of humor. I’m obviously one of the people who liked the film’s humor because even though it’s silly and childish, it had enough cuteness to make me crack a smile every few seconds. I’m just a sucker for films that made me laugh at their innocence. The animation also plays an important part of the film, and it played the part extremely well. It looked absolutely beautiful from start to finish. Not only was it filled to the brim with eye-opening visuals, but it also resembled the film’s Chinese culture with some respectable amount of detail. It would be interesting to see if the studio can make more of their animated films that take place in China.
Overall, like its furry four-legged creature, “Abominable” is a lovable ball of fluff that’s impossible for me to resist. The film’s plot might not reach the same heights as the other animated gems from DreamWorks Animation and its villains didn’t put that much of an effort to make themselves memorable, but its sense of adventure and wonder has enough magic in its soul to make itself a dazzling trip that’s worth taking. Thanks to its enjoyable and harmless story, likable characters, and gorgeous animation, the film is another fine addition to the studio’s collection. I would gladly recommend this film to those who are in a mood for an original animated film as well as kids who are still waiting for “Frozen II” to come out.
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