Jill Culton Todd Widerman (director)
11 October 2019 (released)
11 October 2019
It’s something of a shame when you approach a high-profile animated release with the dull expectation that you know what you are going to get. Playing safe is an easy option that keeps punters and bean counters alike happy.
Abominable is on that list as it has an initially fierce creature escaping from captivity pursued by an evil organisation. Said creature hides away to be discovered by a teenager who then teams up with others to get it back to its home, while being chased by said villains. That is very much the long and the short of it so far so safe.
However Abominable is set in China and when we first meet our heroine Yi (Chloe Bennet) she is busily ignoring her family doing every job possible (in a very funny sequence) saving her money for an epic journey to fulfil a dream.
Lob in her friend the basketball mad Peng (Albert Tsai) and his self-absorbed super-cool, babe magnet cousin Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) who get pulled into the mission to take the yeti (A curious cross between an emoji and a flump) back to the Himalayas after Yi discovers and befriends him after he ends up on her building’s rooftop. The setting should have made this act more interesting, and there are some spectacular cityscapes, but the set-up is far too conventional.
It’s on the roof that we are introduced to Yi’s talent as violinist and that the yeti (now named Everest) also has magical powers. Those come in very useful and get them out tricky situations when being chased by rare animal collector and the hideously rich Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and ‘English’ zoologist Dr Zara (Sarah Paulson). Again, this pair are not going to surprise many, even with the little twist.
The chase takes them through a number of countries with some good animation if nothing truly spectacular. That is until they get to the Leshan Buddha and with the help of magical yeti fur-strings and some beautiful violin playing from Yi, the area is transformed into a fabulous bloom of flower and petals.
The animation is good, as we come to expect, but not outstanding and maybe the action relies too much on the chase sequences so it feels a bit unadventurous. The voice artists are all solid enough though with stock characters to play with so there’s not much for them to really expand on, other than Sarah Paulson who had to make a little more effort as we find out later on.
Written by Jill Culdon and co-directed with Todd Wilderman, the film is cliched but not heartless as its deals with some very emotional subjects and there are wholesome messages about the value of family and friends. It does have a certain charm but that doesn’t damp the slight feeling of manipulation.