In the last year, we’ve seen two animated films that starred big hairy creatures, and no, we’re not talking about actors Steve Carell and Hugh Jackman. For some reason, in the animated film world, yetis, or abominable snowmen, have recently become popular. Late last year, we got Smallfoot; earlier this year, we got Missing Link. Granted, the latter starred the American version of the yeti, with a Sasquatch in search of his cousins in the Himalayas. Now we get one more animated feature that focuses on a yeti in Abominable. What makes a critter like this so popular all of a sudden? Are we not getting enough hairy chests in movies anymore?
Either way, what does Abominable offer that Smallfoot and Missing Link didn’t? If anything makes this movie stand out it’s the animation and locations. Dreamwork Pictures partnered with China’s Pearl Studio to produce this story about a captured yeti who escapes and befriends Yi (Chloe Bennet). Taking place in China, we get a pleasant tale of Yi and her friends, Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), giving the escaped yeti the name of Everest and traveling across China to return Everest to his home. Meanwhile, the business group that had captured Everest now wants him back and doesn’t care if the children stand in their way.
The story is your typical “children having an adventure with a legendary creature” story that we seem to get on a regular basis. It can work if done well. Abominable at least makes the kids entertaining. Yi misses her father and plays his violin. Peng is a lonely younger boy who only wants to hang out with Yi or Jin. Jin is Mr. Popular and enjoys taking selfies a bit too much. As for Everest, the character design is cute. Big blue eyes and long white fur and behavior similar to your favorite dog or child (take your pick on what’s your favorite).
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It’s the animation that really improves the film. With a glowing color palette and settings in both urban and rural China, the film is lovely to look at. With a yeti that seems to have some magical qualities, several scenes in nature really pop on screen. Plus, any film with exploding blueberries or gigantic dandelions beats other animated films.
Abominable may be the last of the animated movies that bring us abominable snowmen, but it doesn’t mean there won’t be a new trend next year. What’s next? Trolls? Leprechauns? Fairies? Is there any chance that Disney is ready to remake Darby O’Gill and the Little People?