DreamWorks is quietly becoming a leader in quality animation, and their latest film “Abominable” tallies up another checkmark in their “win” column. This imaginative, magical adventure teaches kindness, compassion, and helps make the world a smaller place by introducing the world’s children to diverse, foreign cultures.
Teenage girl Yi (Chloe Bennet) encounters a Yeti on the roof of her Shanghai apartment building. Alone and afraid, she befriends the young creature and promises to get him home to Mount Everest. Her friends Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and Peng (Albert Tsai) embark on an epic quest to reunite the beast, whom they nickname Everest, with his family at the highest peak on Earth. As they traverse the varied landscapes of China, the brave travelers must keep an eye out for the evil Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and his assistant zoologist Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson), two villains who are intent on capturing and caging a rare Yeti and holding him behind bars.
The film never lectures but uses the story to express why animals should always be in their wild, natural environments. There are lessons about respecting animals and protecting rare and exotic creatures instead of holding them in captivity for our amusement. It’s a good message for kids and adults alike, and the film is an effective vehicle to convey these themes.
The entire film is extremely appealing, from the adorable animation (Everest is so cute) to the endearing characters who have oodles of conviction and ambition. Having a teenage girl as your main heroine is something not often done in animated films, and Yi is one of the more memorable characters in years. Yi calls herself a loner and has closed herself off from friends and family after her father’s death, but this adventure is one that rattles her right out of her sadness. There’s a beautiful story about perseverance that hopefully won’t be lost on the youngest viewers.
The direction (by Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman) is exciting and enchanting in good measure, as the film starts off with a dramatic yeti-eye view action sequence and later features beautiful fantasy scenes where Everest manipulates nature with his magic powers (he’s a mythical creature, after all, so this does come full circle). The animation is impressive and colorful, and the characters are ones that I hope get a sequel someday because I want to see a continuation of their adventures.
This isn’t a superstar cast, but the voice performances are strong enough to hold their own against the story and animation. All elements combine to make this magical adventure unexpectedly enjoyable.