Cast: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard
Director: Jill Culton
While 2019 has pretty much been the year of Disney and Pixar, it’s always nice when Dreamworks pops up and gives Disney a run for their money. They did it earlier this year with the final How to Train Your Dragon movie, but with Abominable it looks as though they can produce one-off projects that are both entertaining and visually appealing. Beautifully animated and a story that is both sentimental and enticing, Abominable is the type of animated film that both children and adults can enjoy together for most of its 97 minute runtime.
The film follows Yi (voiced by Bennet), a teenager in Shanghai coping with the death of her father by cutting others off and focusing her time working multiple jobs and playing the violin. When a yeti escapes from its prison and ends up on the roof of Yi’s apartment building, she befriends the creature, names it Everest, and helps it get back to full strength. Understanding that this creature doesn’t belong in the city, she works to return the yeti back to Mount Everest with her friends Peng (voiced by Tsai) and Jin (voiced by Trainor) and avoid the dangers of the organization that trapped it in the first place. Starting off with the animation, the overall feel and texture of the film reminded me a lot of Big Hero 6 with the Asian influence and art design. Combining this with the variety of colors and textures helps bring the characters and environments off the screen and really helps the movie immerse the audience and makes them believe they’re right there in China with these characters. With the amount of diverse landscapes this film takes through, whether these are peaks and valleys or rivers and cities, the ability to go from one extreme to the next without the movie ever getting awkward is very impressive. Outside of the animation, the narrative was particularly strong compared to other films in this genre. I was expecting the story to be pretty straightforward and without much deviation from a traditional animated film, and for the most part this is the case. That being said, the tone of the movie towards the end goes differently than expected and in this case different is not a bad thing. The ability to get away from the norm and establish this movie with an independent and thoughtful ending helped create a sense of awe and wonder that a lesser film wouldn’t have done. I thought for sure that we were going to get more of a sad and weepy ending, and while those elements were certainly on display at times, the decision to go with something more hopeful and positive helped the movie move towards a more decisive and well-crafted conclusion. After seeing what Dreamworks was able to do earlier this year, it’s no surprise that they know how to stick the landing and they’ve done it once again with Abominable. Between all of these elements and a stacked voice cast, Dreamworks may have two potential candidates for Best Animated Feature this year as Abominable did everything it was supposed to and more.
Overall, whether you are watching Abominable purely for entertainment purposes or you are watching it to appreciate a strong story and animation, you will get pretty much exactly what you’re looking for from this movie. If you’re someone who got dragged this movie by your kids, then fortunately this is one of the movies you can enjoy with them instead of tolerating for long enough for the credits to roll. Dreamworks had a great year in 2019 and I hope they can continue this success next year.
Overall Score: 7.5/10