If you’re in need of some post-Joker R&R, Abominable is the obvious candidate. A family friendly story of home and nature, Yi (Chloe Bennet) leaves her mother and grandmother to help an injured Yeti, who she calls Everest, get back home. She is helped by the grotesquely vain Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and the enthusiastic Peng (Albert Tsai). It becomes clear that Everest has magical abilities that amaze with their beauty and power, but that he is also being hunted by explorer Mr. Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and his squad of heavily armed employees.
Dreamworks have delivered a film that has lighthearted and feelgood written all over it. The relationships between the three children are funny, believable and brought to life well by the leading cast. Their playfulness in the face of adventure and their friendship with the utterly adorable Everest makes Abominable an irresistibly cute and loving movie, the kind that could pick you up after a bad day and give you a massive cuddle with hairy yeti arms. The humour is always a little crude, but easy to laugh along with. Even when events take a dramatic turn, the film is quick to turn things around yet again to keep a positive spin on things, never dwelling on negatives for very long.
Abominable is also yet another example of how far animation has come. Although some of the cityscapes look annoyingly 2D, the detail and texture on Everest himself is phenomenal. For all of the wonder that the film throws at you, no sequence is more impressive than the opening escape from a confinement facility, filmed from Everest’s point of view and moving along at a frantic pace. The film is not shy when giving the old technical razzle dazzle, and while the visuals might not match the sheer artistry or detail of Toy Story 4, it is marvellous nonetheless.
Yet the entertaining characters and effects are let down by a script all too happy to paint by numbers. There is a disappointing lack of originality, the story feeling like a mosaic of pieces from comparable, much better movies. The disgraced explorer out to reclaim his prize is seen in Up, while Missing Link is also about trying to get a mythical being back to their Himalayas home, to name some obvious examples. There is also some unwelcome cheese when Coldplay tunes start accompanying what could be deeply moving points in the film. Nothing about the story dramatically catches you off-guard, and at worst the film could be accused of being shallow. A division between nature and urban living is ripe for the taking, but never explored with the attention it craves. Writer-director Jill Culton is the first ever woman to direct an animation with a female lead, yet the script fails to rise up to the significance of this occasion.
It will not win prizes for writing anytime soon, yet despite the deathly traditional story there is sensational life and magic whizzing away under every shot. The voicework and animation do just enough to make Abominable a film you can’t help but enjoy, even if this latest take on the yeti is unlikely to inspire anyone to explore the wilderness themselves.
Abominable is out in cinemas now.