Chloe Bennett, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Joseph Izzo, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin, Michelle Wong
PG for some action and mild rude humor
Buy on DVD/Blu-ray
For some, a certain style of animation is a turn-off. For others, the story is more important than the animation itself. For Abominable, the latter is certainly true, though the smooth-edge style of animation will eventually grow on the viewer.
Set in Shanghai, China, Abominable begins as a young yeti escapes a testing facility where his captors hope to expose the world to the existence of his kind while nefarious interests plan something far more odious against his people. When the creature finds refuge on the rooftop of a small apartment complex where our protagonist Yi (Chloe Bennett) lives, the pursuit of the evil corporation forces Yi to begin her cross-China trip early, accompanied by her unwitting neighbors Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor).
Embarking on the journey that Yi and her late father were to have taken together brings up bittersweet memories for the young violin prodigy who must live this adventure the way her father had always wanted. As we follow the quartet across the myriad landscapes of China on their way to the Himalayas, each character expectedly learns more about themselves and also comes to understand the connective tissues that hold them all together.
The animation in the film is a bit too polished, yet there are some terrific effects employed at various moments in the film. It’s an effort that grows more on you the longer it goes on. Perhaps that’s partly the engaging story or perhaps it’s simply an improvement in the process as the film’s development progressed. The vocal work by the three young actors is fine, but it’s Eddie Izzard as the head of Burnish Industries and Sarah Paulson as his zoologist associate who provide the best support.
Written and directed by Jill Culton, the film follows traditional narrative structures while relying on the unanticipated beauty of the animation and the gorgeousness of the music to fill in the gaps that inexperience has left behind. It’s a simple story about a girl who feels abandoned and alone who slowly opens herself up to the friends and family around her while she, the yeti, and her two neighbors take part in perilous and rewarding adventures.
Having a simple story isn’t always worrisome. Sometimes, it’s the simplest stories that are often the most impactful. The depth of the film’s heart and emotional resonance are built carefully into the beautiful conclusion. Culton brings out the beauty of nature, culture, and all of her themes in a uncomplicated but evocative voice that identifies her as a future influence to watch in the realm of animation.
While it’s difficult to be entirely enamored with the animation in Abominable and the whole affair is a bit too reliant on the black-and-white good versus evil conceit, the end result is an enjoyable film that will touch hearts, both young and old.
March 12, 2020