DreamWorks may not be the most consistent studio working in animated films but when they do get it right it tends to be to spectacular results, just look at the How To Train Your Dragon franchise. They were looking to bring that kind of magic to Abominable a film about a Chinese teenage girl, Yi, who encounters a Yeti, she names Everest, living on her roof, and makes the decision to return him to his home at Mount Everest.
This has been a strangely common theme in animated films in the last year or two as we had Smallfoot and Missing Link which both have exceptionally similar plotlines. It was nice that director Jill Culton chose not to make Abominable as Western centric as those previous two films, as our main group of characters are all from Shanghai.
At the heart of the film is the theme of family, as Yi has become distant from hers since her father passed, but during the quest to return the Everest to Mount Everest she begins to find one in her companions, her childhood friend Jin and his younger cousin Peng. There is even one scene where this is truly displayed as Yi and Jin act more like parents to Everest and Peng.
It is a really nice and heartwarming film, but it never really reaches the lofty heights of DreamWorks’ best. The peril in the film, provided by a Burnish, a wealthy man who wants to capture Everest with his team of mercenaries, just never feels like a true threat to what they are trying to achieve, making the stakes in the film feel low.
This is certainly the kind of film that young families will enjoy. It is really beautifully animated, and whilst it doesn’t soare to the heights of films like How To Train Your Dragon thanks it its safe and familiar storytelling, it has some beautiful moments, and a lovely message at heart.