And now for our third helping of animated Big Foot movies in the past twelve months – with Small Foot from Warner Bros just under a year ago, Missing Link courtesy of Laika back in April and now for a contribution from DreamWorks. Abominable finishes off the trio quite nicely, making a hat-trick of nice and inoffensive animated movies about a yeti.
The most remarkable thing about each film, in fact the real defining feature of each, is the fact their releases dates coincided. Other than that, each film utilises a very similar formula – one that is used for most middle of the road animated tales. It’s just that these three have the arrival of a yeti to prompt a journey of discovery.
That’s not to sell Abominable short as it does have a good amount going for it. YI (Chloe Bennett) makes for an excellent protagonist, mourning the recent loss of her father by making herself as busy as possible. She throws herself into odd jobs for neighbours, neglecting her mother and grandmother in the process. She’s also grown apart from childhood friend Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and the much younger Peng (Albert Tasi) who looks up to her. The arrival of a young yeti, who has just escaped from the wealthy elderly man (Eddie Izzard) and his zoologist sidekick (Sarah Paulson) who intent on capturing it. Realising how far away the yeti is from his home, Yi decides she’ll help take him there – with Jin and Peng accompanying her on an epic quest to Everest.
What follows is an array of the expected, all sorts of madcap occurrences and misadventures. And it all makes for entertaining enough watching, with just enough sweetness and pathos to make it all mean something. There’s also a far few lovely moments that make an attempt to hit the tear ducts, although the most ambitious of these is undercut by being scored by Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’. Not only is it a song that has been overused in reality tv ‘journeys’, it’s also distracting because then you find yourself trying to work out how old the song is and if it’s now time for Coldplay to fall under the category of music being used for nostalgic purposes in films. (Answer – the song is 14 years old, almost twice the age of the target audience. Gulp.)
Slightly samey storyline and storytelling aside, the animation is truly beautiful. The world building is up there with How To Train Your Dragon, trading a remote Viking village for a contemporary Chinese city – and a range of beautiful landscapes along the way. It’s truly beautiful to look at, even if the premise is rather light.
An engaging enough family adventure, but one that feels as if it doesn’t live up to it’s potential.
Abominable is in UK cinemas from October 11th.