Despite some graceful images like a wave of flowers and a ride on a giant dandelion, “Abominable” lacks the personality to distinguish it from superior animated films that cover most of the same ground. A co-production with the Chinese company Pearl Studio, it’s very clearly been designed to appeal to the largest international audience possible, which means it’s been too obviously rounded out and sanded down. It sometimes feels Scrooge-like to come down on a sweet and simple film like this one, but kids can get bored too. And they will be here.
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Jill Culton’s film opens with a playful, adorable yeti breaking free from his confinement in a Chinese metropolis and finding his way to a nondescript rooftop. That’s where he encounters Yi (Chloe Bennet), a tough girl who has been working odd jobs to save the money to take a trip across the country that she was planning to take with her recently-deceased father. She realizes that the creature is not only harmless, but injured, and she heals its wound, giving it the name of Everest.
Before you know it, Yi and two neighbours, the childish Peng (Albert Tsai) and the smooth-talker Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) are travelling across the country to get Everest back to, well, Everest, and reunite him with his family. Trailing them are a doctor voiced by Sarah Paulson and a villainous rare animal collector voiced by Eddie Izzard.
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A lot of animated fare hits familiar beats, but “Abominable” does so half-heartedly. It feels produced by a machine that was fed the scripts for the “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Kung Fu Panda” movies and “Smallfoot” and asked to produce a hybrid that could be as inoffensive as possible. And the script is stunningly flat in terms of entertainment value. While there’s something to be said for going the opposite direction of a genre that’s usually overloaded with jokes, I just wanted to laugh or smile at one line of dialogue, and I never did.
Of course, there are great animated films that aren’t designed as comedies and one can envision a version of this more heavily inspired by Miyazaki, for example but this script doesn’t replace the lost humour with magic. The characters all speak of what they need to do or what matters to them and then move forward to the next set piece to do it. It’s disappointingly boring.
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“Abominable” actually works best when it discards language altogether and focuses on nature-driven visuals or music. There are a few sequences in which Everest reveals he has magical powers that can impact nature scenes in which giant blueberries chase our heroes down a hill or a yellow wave of flowers propels them forward and it’s here where “Abominable” comes to life.
There’s also a captivating sequence at the Leshan Giant Buddha statue in Sichuan (even if it was a mistake to go to something as obvious as Coldplay on the soundtrack in that scene). “Abominable” is really a road movie across a country that has not really been captured in animated films for American audiences, and there’s intrinsic value in that. A lot of the landscapes work. It’s when it crashes back to the dull narrative.
DreamWorks Animation made its feature debut with a famous attempt at scooping its competition: The studio’s animated comedy about ants (Antz) beat Disney and Pixar’s animated comedy about ants (A Bug’s Life) to theatres by six weeks. This was followed by other selected instances of supposed parallel thinking (Shark Tale and Finding Nemo; Megamind and Despicable Me), so it’s not shocking that with Abominable, DreamWorks has produced one of three different yeti-centric feature cartoons.
But it is a bit of a surprise to see DreamWorks trailing the others so substantially, releasing its round, smooth-nosed creature into the wild a year after Smallfoot and six months after Missing Link. It’s also surprising that Abominable feels like a soft reset of the whole antic, intermittently inspired, sometimes shameless DreamWorks deal.
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In short order, Yi decides that she will help this yeti find his way back to Mount Everest, the location he recognizes from a billboard and becomes his namesake. Yi and Everest are joined by Yi’s materialistic and phone-obsessed neighbour, Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), and his excitable little cousin Peng (Albert Tsai). They’re pursued by the wealthy industrialist Burnish (Eddie Izzard), who wants to prove to the world that the yeti is real, and his reluctant helper, the zoologist Dr Zara (Sarah Paulson).
Though there are the usual frantic chases, bad-guy henchmen, and good-guy squabbling, the conflicts of Abominable aren’t as artificially goosed as those of many contemporary cartoons, which still hew closely to the Toy Story model of mismatched-buddy dynamics. Even when they’re at odds, these characters have a certain gentility and breathing room. Even Burnish is more oblivious than teeth-gnashingly evil; struck by the beauty of a particular tree in the wild, he blithely orders his men to cut it down and bag it up for his later enjoyment.
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That gag is indicative of the movie’s sense of humour: a little droller and a little less relentlessly jokey than frequent DreamWorks watchers may expect. Writer-director Jill Culton seems confident that she can capture the attention of kids and their parents with actual filmmaking. She uses point-of-view shots to introduce Everest, a low-dialogue montage to introduce Yi, and absolutely no “yep-that’s-me” expositional narration. It’s also enjoyable to see Dream Works get out of the shiny, plastic-y suburbs in favour of more visually diverse locations, from Shanghai rooftops to literally rolling green hills.
In terms of fantastical creatures who make friends with cartoon children, Everest doesn’t have a personality as distinctively animated as Toothless or Stitch. He reveals that he’s blessed with the awe-inspiring powers of convenience magical abilities that get the characters out of repeated scrapes and create set pieces at regular intervals. At their best, these scenes do have the whimsical lilt of magic, specifically of magic created by animation studios outside the U.S. studio machine.
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It was truly an immersive and incredible experience. For an admitted animation novice like myself, it provided a window into the massive time and effort it takes to actually make an animated film. You could almost say that their journey to getting Abominable made mirrored Yi’s journey to bring Everest back home. We’ll see the fruits of their labor when the film opens worldwide on September 27th. In the meantime, here is a collection of 20 things we learned about the production during our visit in order to get you ready for its release. abominable movie Download 201
Writer/Director Jill Culton was first pitched the possibility of an animated Yeti movie by Dreamworks over a decade ago. When she agreed to do it, they gave her the unique opportunity to write the script from scratch.
Culton modelled Yi on herself because she didn’t really identify with the “princesses” from most animated films. She wanted to see a tomboy female lead character who jumps in without looking and doesn’t mind getting a bit dirty. abominable movie Download 2019
Everest was inspired by Culton’s love of the large dogs in her life, including her two 100-pound bloodhounds. The animators made Everest a combo of a gorilla, panda, grizzly bear, cat, puppy, and orangutan. Speaking of her bloodhounds, their abilities to use their ears and wrinkles to capture scents and be the best trackers influenced Everest’s magical abilities in the movie.
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While most animated sequences run from 45 seconds to 2 minutes on average, Head of Character Animation John Hill informed us that the “There’s a Yeti on My Roof” sequence is 7 minutes long and required two teams to animate it.
Hill also told us that in most animated films, teams are handed shots that do not occur chronologically in the movie. But on Abominable, the production heads handed out 7-15 shots in a row to the same animators which allowed them to have a little more ownership of a sequence in the film.
The production team also brought in professional violinist Charlene Huang and recorded her playing the music in the film so they could match her finger, shoulder and body movements for Yi. abominable movie Download 2019
The cloud coy fish sequence was the most challenging sequence in the movie. Making clouds look like they could be tangible enough to ride, but still cloud-like provided unique obstacles for the animation team. Production Designer Max Boas revealed that the five manmade and natural sites the characters visit in China: the Qiandao Lake, Yellow Mountain, Yunnan Province, the Leshan Giant Buddha and the Himalayas.
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