Abominable. Photo: DreamWorks

Abominable: Beautiful animation, heartwarming story & inspiring adventure

by Bobby Lieu

Abominable, a computer-animated production from DreamWorks and Pearl Studio, is the third animated film to feature a Yeti in the past year – Small Foot (September 2018) and The Missing Link (April 2019). But the film, written and directed by Jill Culton, stands on its own, especially since it’s a rare animated-adventure movie that features Chinese characters.

After the death of her father, Yi (Chloe Bennet) is distant from her mother (Michelle Wong) and grandmother (Tsai Chin) and they are worried about her well-being. She works multiple jobs to earn money so she could travel across China – one of her father’s wishes. When Yi plays the violin by herself on the rooftop, she discovers a Yeti. She learns that the creature is scared of the helicopter searching for him, so she decides to protect him. Yi then realizes that this monster wants to return to Mount Everest, so she gives him the name him Everest. The main obstacles standing in their way are Burnish (Eddie Izzard), a wealthy collector, and Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson), a zoologist, who pursues them and attempts to capture Everest to show the world that a Yeti exists.

Though the plot may feel somewhat unoriginal, the inclusion of the Chinese culture is what truly makes the film stand out. It’s rare that we are shown Chinese and Asian representation on screen, both animated and live-action, but this movie does so in a fun and engaging manner. Yi, Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), Peng (Albert Tsai), and Everest showcase the beauty of China from the city and the countryside, to the Himalayas. In fact, one of the most breathtaking scenes occurs when Yi plays her violin at Leshan Giant Buddha, a real-life tourist attraction. Aside from the stunning visuals, we also learn about other aspects of Chinese culture like their food and philosophies on life. Eating Nai Nai’s pork buns is a recurring joke throughout the film. And in one scene, the group is so exhausted that they consider halting their journey back home. However, after they observe some koi fish in a nearby river, which are known to represent perseverance, the group becomes re-inspired to fight through their exhaustion and do what they must in order to return Everest back home.

Furthermore, Abominable is a great film for both kids and adults. Kids will love the vibrant visuals and slapstick comedy. There may be some dark moments, but the film never takes itself too seriously. In one scene, Peng uses Everest’s paw to punch him, “Why are you punching yourself?” The adults will appreciate the theme of “healing” as well. In the beginning, each character is hurt in some way. Yi is emotionally broken by the death of her father. Everest is physically wounded by escaping his containment. But by the end of the film, each character realizes that they are more than their pain.

Abominable is another great addition to DreamWorks Animation. Prepare to go on a fun and heartwarming journey with Yi, Jin, Peng, and Everest. It’s not where we travel, but whom we travel with, that makes the journey – a fun one!

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