WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
An epic 3 000 km adventure from the streets of a Chinese city to the breathtaking Himalayan snowscapes. When teenage Yi encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, she and her friends, Jin and Peng, name him "Everest" and embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The Abominable Yeti has graced our screens for as long as the mythical creature has captured imaginations, and in one year we are getting two animations (albeit very different kind of animations) in one year - and after almost ten years in the making Abominable from Dreamworks is the first to make it to our screens.
In the trailers, it feels like a slapstick misadventure that’s only for kids, but the actual movie is a completely different type of creature - it takes you on a beautiful journey with a heartfelt relationship between a grief-stricken girl and a yeti yearning for home and will probably make you cry. At one point you may even wonder if you’re not watching a Disney movie instead of a Dreamworks one. This is a stand-out film for the studio, and while not a unique story, it’s telling is a powerful one.
A Chinese girl Yi finds a yeti on the roof of her apartment building, recently escaped from a slightly deranged explorer obsessed with proving yetis exist. Alongside two lifelong friends and neighbours, they all embark on a quest to return him to his home on Everest.
This movie ended up being quite a surprise for me, having judged it on the awful trailers - it’s a very special movie. A child dealing with loss is nothing new in children’s animations - it probably makes up a core foundation for most - and neither is a lost mythical creature trying to find its way home, but it somehow still felt very fresh and original. The playful humour is wholesome fun coupled with the hilarious matter-of-fact voice that is Eddie Izzard as the looney wealthy explorer, but it also tends to go very dark along the way. While Yi is reminded that she still has loved ones that need her after her father’s death, the filmmakers also slipped in an environmental message about keeping nature safe from humans, the yeti presented as a symbol for our fragile environment. It would be interesting to see if that would resonate with an Asian audience, and around the world as children are taking the fight for our world’s future to the UN.
While set in China, it’s surprisingly far from being stereotypical about Chinese culture - the result of another US-Chinese co-production. It’s also a very obvious tourism campaign for the country, showcasing some of the most beautiful parts of its countryside that might seem inaccessible to many. It’s an adventure of the senses, with the most stunning scene - visually and emotionally - taking place on the lap of the Leshan Giant Buddha. While I’ve never had any interest in visiting China, this movie has made it a lot more appealing.
Abominable is a surprise win of the year, and probably one of my favourite animations to come out of 2019. The second one - Missing Link from Laika Studios - hasn’t come to South Africa yet despite having already premiered overseas, but it has a completely different story and style to this one. But for family viewing this school holidays, Abominable is a must-see for both young and old.