Taking the age-old, oft-told story of the Yeti and turning it into a fresh, entertaining, and heartwarming movie is an Everest-sized feat, but Abominable accomplishes it with elegance and beauty. Though the plot’s threads tangle at times, the gorgeous animation and wonderful storytelling more than make up for any confusion.
While it’s nearly impossible for children’s movies to escape predictability, Abominable impressively evades overused tropes and boredom. While its premise is not particularly new – a group of misfits unite and fight impossible odds to help a creature find its way home – its execution transforms it into something magical. Directors Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman pack so much emotion and care into every moment; each scene is a roulette offering humor, grief, fear, or suspense. The characters are so complex and compelling that by the time the credits roll, the bittersweet ending is augmented by the sense of leaving friends behind.
Chloe Bennet, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, and Albert Tsai play Yi, Jin, and Peng respectively. The actors voice each character with personality and nuance as they travel through stunningly rendered expanses of China to return Everest the Yeti to his Himalayan home. Rather than sticking to the most famous landmarks and regions, such as Beijing or the Great Wall, the film depicts a variety of lesser-known places, including the Gobi Desert, Huangshan, and the Leshan Giant Buddha. Lush, extravagant scenes show nature and vegetation swelling as Yi beautifully plays her violin to Everest’s magical accompaniment. These moments, as moving as they are enchanting, distinguish the film from other family flicks.
As tear-jerking as the plot is, there are certainly moments of confusion in which the story becomes muddled. Several plot points are oversimplified or left unresolved, such as the tension between Yi and her mother and grandmother. However, betrayal, plot-twists, the adorable Yeti, and the hilarious gag of “Whooping Snakes” mask the odd inconsistency.
Part of the beauty of the film is its insistence on authentically telling the stories of groups often underrepresented in the media. Following the success of other Western movies with Asian casts such as Crazy Rich Asians, it is salient that children, too, now have diverse casts to look up to and connect with. Rather than sticking to prescribed formulas for successful children’s movies, Abominable creatively tackles universal themes in a refreshingly honest and visually glorious way.
Abominable is released nationwide on 11th October 2019.
Watch the trailer for Abominable here: