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Blu-ray Review: Abominable

December 17, 2019

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

A co-production between DreamWorks Animation and Pearl Studio, the American animation company’s outpost in China, Abominable is the story of a girl and her yeti that plays like a minor response to the success of their How to Train Your Dragon films.

Directed by Jill Culton, who has both exited and circled back to this long-gestating project over the years, Abominable is set in China and follows Yi (Chloe Bennet), a teen girl who lives with her mother (Michelle Wong) and grandmother (Tsai Chin) in Shanghai. She spends her days doing odd jobs around the city in order to make earn a little money, and also to fill the void left in her life by the death of her father.

But Yi’s life changes when she encounters a young and scared Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, who escaped from a secure holding facility. She forms a bond with the creature and calls him Everest, a name inspired by the mountain which is pictured on a billboard that she finds him gazing upon from her roof. Joined by her friends Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), Yi sets out on a journey to return Everest to his home in the Himalayas, but they are being pursued by Burnish (Eddie Izzard), a wealthy collector who seeks the fame of being the first one to present yetis to the world, and Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson), a zoologist who works with him.

While Abominable bears some similarities to the How to Train Your Dragon series in its story of the bond between a teenager and a misunderstood creature, it also lacks the depth and genuine emotional connection of those films. The screenplay is somewhat bland, telling a story that feels completely safe and is predictable to a fault, and the characters aren’t exactly memorable. It’s derivative of countless other films and lacks any real originality, at times playing more like an extended tourist promo for China, with little in the way of content to offend the censors.

With that said, Abominable is far from a bad movie. There is some visually pleasing animation on display, with appealing background vistas and a few more imaginative scenes showcasing Everest’s magical ability to make plants grow to enormous size, including gigantic blueberries. There are also a few nicely handled character moments peppered throughout, and the film does inject some heart into the proceedings, mainly through a sweet story thread involving Yi’s violin, an instrument that belonged to her late father.

While Abominable isn’t unwatchable, and the animation is technically strong enough so as not to be written off completely, it’s also largely unremarkable and not exactly the strongest of DreamWorks Animation’s offerings. It’s often a pleasant enough film to watch in the moment, and one that I would recommend if all you’re looking for is a pleasingly diverting animated adventure, but it doesn’t prove to be overly memorable beyond that.

The Blu-ray also includes a selection of bonus features, starting with the two short films Marooned and Show & Tell, the latter a brief 2D animated piece featuring characters from the movie. They are followed by four deleted scenes which feature an intro by Culton and co-director Todd Wilderman, as well as the featurettes Making a Myth (Movie), Animating Abominable, Meet the Cast, Your Yeti Care Guide, Courage to Dream, An Abominable Tour With Chloe Bennet, Everest’s Talk Box, Cooking With Nai Nai, How To… Abominable, You Can Speak Yeti-Ese, and Nai Nai Says. Finally, there is a commentary track with the filmmakers.

Abominable is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 97 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: December 17th, 2019

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