Abominable is a delightfully entertaining and heartwarming tale about appreciating your family, and embracing new ones.
DreamWorks Animation and Pearl Studio give us a familiar story, but in a refreshing package. The story follows a young violinist, Yi (Chloe Bennet), who has become detached from her mother (Michelle Wong) and grandmother (Tsai Chin) after the death of her father. She occupies her days doing odd jobs to earn enough money to go on the trip she always dreamed of. However, her life is turned upside down by a massively adorable yeti. Yi feels the urge to protect the frightened and lonely creature (which she has names Everest), and sets out on an adventure to return the young yeti to his home. Along for the ride is her neighbor Peng (Albert Tsai) and his cousin Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor).
Let’s start off by discussing the wonderful voice cast that brings these characters to life. Bennet, Trainor, and Tsai inject great personality, depth, and humor to their characters, particularly Tsai as Peng who can melt any ice giants heart with his cheery disposition. Our young adventurers are not only a joy to hear, but to watch as well, as they bumble their way to Mount Everest. They are so delightful that it makes a case for a sequel to be made as soon as possible.
There are things about Abominable that are reminiscent of How to Train Your Dragon (which had its conclusion earlier this year). Aside from the narrative of a lonely youngster befriending a magical creature and shenanigans ensuing, both films have great use of silence and character development. Our characters have a lot to say, but there are a good amount of quiet moments. Moments that are filled with our characters expressing emotion and thoughts with their actions. Often times animated films are designed to keep you on your toes with everything being loud and bright. Moments of silence are abruptly cut short with a quip, loud noise, or flashing lights. Abominable isn’t afraid to make each emotional beat feel earned and make us feel fully present with our protagonists.
The animation is beautifully accomplished; each setting in this adventure is drastically differs from the one before, capturing the diversity in terrain across China, and Asia as a whole. Although, there is a lot left to be desired when it comes to Everest’s home, but I am just going to assume the sequel will cover that (please make one, DreamWorks). The animation is also particularly stunning when Everest’s powers interact with the character’s current environment. His power set, and how it affects the world around him is well realized and rendered. At times it does feel perhaps a bit too similar to How to Train Your Dragon, but if you imagine these films both exist in the same universe, it is very easy to forgive.
The heart of this movie is about embracing the people who care about you. Finding your home with your family, whether they be biological or not. Yi is learning to overcome how crippling grief can be, and it is an important circumstance to explore. In times of great sadness it is normal to act out-of-character, be isolated, and become defensive. Eventually, you must summon the courage to grow and accept others back into your life. For Yi, her new magical yeti helped her find the courage to move forward, and we get to enjoy this moving journey with her.
Abominable is in theaters now.