MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
At the beginning of Abominable a yeti escapes from a cage in Shanghai where he is being held by Burnish Industries. A few minutes later he will be discovered on an apartment building rooftop by Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet), a hard-working tween who is saving up money to go on a trip through China that she had originally planned to take with her late father. Somehow Yi and her two neighborhood friends Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and Peng (Albert Tsai) connect quickly to this creature who intimates (by looking longingly at a billboard of Mt. Everest) that he desires to return to his snow-capped home. The trio nicknames the yeti Everest and go on a cross-country trek to accomplish this goal. Since Yi was planning a trip all along, this adventure hits her sweet spot. Her two pals just like being along for the ride, and a group from Burnish Industries – including a nefarious doctor (Sarah Paulson) and Mr. Burnish himself (Eddie Izzard) – is hot on their trail.
This is the third animated film this year (after Smallfoot and Missing Link) involving a mythical furry creature. There’s nothing even remotely original about the story. While the Chinese setting is a change of pace, there are more than a few stereotypes at play. And for a film that wants to deliver a message about the importance of family, Yi and her friends are away from home for days and there is no parental anxiety or concern during their absence. Although the film boasts a beautiful score by Rupert Gregson-Williams, it also includes an inappropriate use of the song “Fix You” during later mountain scenes (I’m guessing that the filmmakers thought it would be amusing to feature a song by Coldplay).
Why should anyone bother seeing Abominable? One word: Beauty. This is one of the best-looking animated films that I’ve seen in years, coming from Pearl, a Chinese animation studio that has partnered with Dreamscape. The natural vistas are reminiscent of the films from Japan’s Studio Ghibli and the magical Everest reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki’s Totoro (1988’s My Neighbor Totoro). It’s a film that could be enjoyed with the sound turned down. I am really looking forward to future films from Pearl. These animators know what they’re doing. The film is also quite gentle in its storytelling. And even though there are brief scenes of violence (including shooting tranquilizer darts), the film has a quiet and hopeful resolution.
Abominable is not profound or original, but it sure looked good. Sometimes that is enough for me.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Three halos: A generic kid’s movie filled with beautiful animation.
Two pitchforks: Little kids running around the world unsupervised and occasionally doing inappropriate things; one offscreen intimation of death.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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