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Abominable - Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HEART-warming and visually ravishing, new animated adventure Abominable may not boast the most original concept but it’s very big on charm.

Following hot-on-the-heels of similarly themed mythical ape movies (Smallfoot and Missing Link), this collaboration between DreamWorks and the China-based Pearl Studio nevertheless boasts plenty to recommend it, not least in the way that it embraces Chinese culture and even adopts some of Studio Ghibli’s more emotional traits.

The story is simple: Chinese teenager Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet) is still quietly coming to terms with the death of her father, when she comes across an escaped yeti hiding out on her rooftop.

This abominable snowman has been the captive of rich collector-explorer Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and his zoologist assistant (Sarah Paulson) and they are hot on his trail, along with a team of bad guys.

But Yi determines to get him back to his home on Everest and enlists the help of basketball fixated cousin Peng (Albert Tsai) and resident ladies man Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor).

Their ensuing adventure takes them across various mountain ranges and rivers, while bringing this unlikely foursome closer together, as well as helping Yi to understand and overcome her grief.

If the plot beats are fairly predictable, Abominable still thrives in other areas. Its notable for making its own kind of history by making its writer-director, Jill Culton, the first-ever woman to direct an animated film with a female lead.

But it also boasts a timely message about being kind to each other as well as the wider world and its creatures, as well as embracing different cultures and practices. It also offers a supremely satisfying and sometimes extremely poignant emotional journey (enhanced by a classic Coldplay tune popping up at a crucial moment). Yi’s story arc is particularly endearing and draws comparisons with the likes of both Pixar and Studio Ghibli at their best during one or two key moments.

The creature, too, is suitably furry and loveable, while Yi’s accomplices – while certainly stereotypical at times – also exhibit winning personalities, learning their various lessons along the way.

Visually, the film is also beautiful, drawing on its Chinese backdrop to create vistas that are both breath-taking and different from the US norm.

True, there are elements that require huge suspensions of disbelief and some of the writing opts for contrived escapes from certain scenarios that don’t always seem logical. But Culton maintains the film’s optimism and fantasy to ensure that it’s refreshingly cynical free. And that’s its own kind of tonic for families seeking some inspiring escapism.

Minor gripes aside, it would take a very hard heart indeed not to be melted by Abominable‘s considerable charm.

Certificate: U
Running time: 97mins
UK Release Date: October 11, 2019