Wendy Richardson | 20/09/2019
Abominable is the super-cute new release by those super-animator’s – Dreamworks (Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Madagascar, Kung Foo Panda) co-produced with Universal Pictures and Pearl Studios. With a script written and directed by Jill Culton (Monsters Inc., Toy Story, A Bug’s Life) and co-direction from Todd Wilderman (Open Season 2) is it any wonder that this incredible animation reaches new pinnacles in revealing the inter-play between fear and love.
Everyone experiences fear, but its where that fear comes from, and how to vanquish it that is the story within this story. And a terrifying escape from an experimental facility, of a very angry Yeti, is the perfect place to start such an exploration. Injured in the chase by his minder’s, this abominable snowman escapes by scaling tall buildings till he finds a secure rooftop where he is mesmerized by a Billboard of his home on Mount Everest. It’s the beginning of his thawing. The story then permeates through an important journey in the life of the lovely, if slightly angst-ridden Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennett) who presents as having a tough time connecting with her mother (voiced by Michelle Wong) and her grandmother Nai-Nai (voiced by Tsai Chin).
Set in the busy metropolis of Shang Hai, after being driven to distraction by these “over-bearing” parental figures, Yi takes every opportunity to get away from them, working long days doing all sorts of odd-jobs around the city to bring in the $$$ - but for what? When Yi just can’t take these meddlers anymore, she escapes to her roof top hideaway, where the movie-goer is treated to the most phenomenal violin playing by Yi (In fact the score throughout the movie is liltingly stunning.)
And it’s here, on a small Shanghai residential rooftop, that we are introduced to the loveable and affable version of the snowman, Everest (voiced by Joseph Izzo) and that first piece of Everest magic starts to percolate through the movie.
Joined by friends Peng (voiced by Albert Tsai) and young Jin (voiced by Tensing Norgay Trainor), the trio meld together to help Everest find his Everest. But it’s a tough gig for poor Peng, the archetypical young millennial who adores his expensive “kicks” and is wedded to his phone, selfies and self-validation through adoring followers. But what I really love about this movie is just how subtly it lures the young viewer into the idea that nature and nurture are much more validating than any material things that are on offer and its from this premise that the real magic starts to happen.
While we are given a small glimpse of what the lyrical humming of Everest can achieve when he makes a flower bloom back on Yi’s rooftop, those magical abilities continue to grow as the journey progresses. Escaping from the evil Burnish (voiced by Eddie Izzard), and his side-kick Dr Zara (voiced by Sarah Paulson) (even the names of the baddies allude to all the material things Millennials love yet are subtly ascribed to the baddies), the journey sees our young friends traverse China as they travel from Shanghai to the Nepalese mountains.
This is a beautifully styled animation. The colours and drawings are brilliant and the ideas for magical ways to travel abound. One scene has the group riding a giant wave made solely out of a field of flowers, while another has them floating through the air on a giant dandelion and riding “cloud” dolphins all the way to the base of Everest. And all these amazing travel methods are created by that magical humming of Everest, the beauty of which touches the viewer’s soul.
As the chase continues it exposes the idea that all this nature is having a wonderfully positive effect on one of the baddies, Burnish. And the turning of Dr Zara, from a concerned conservationist into a “crazy lady” seems to help impregnate the young viewers mind, that people who appear nice, can sometimes have bad motives, so be discerning!
As the crescendo of the film approaches, we learn that Burnish’s misinterpretation of the intentions of a Yeti that he had come across years ago led him to a life of misery, but that that feeling can change in an instant with a positive mindset.
We really can’t recommend this movie highly enough. What starts with a snowball of fear, drenches the audience in an avalanche of love’s miracles. It’s message is what every parent wants their child to learn, portrayed delightfully through the fantasmagorical story of a Yeti.