DIRECTOR: Jill Culton, Todd Wilderman
SCREENWRITER: Jill Culton
STARS: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Jospeph Izzo, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson
RUNTIME: 97 minutes
CINEMATIC RELEASE DATES: Australia (19th September 2019), Thailand (26th September 2019), UK (11th October 2019), USA (27th September 2019)
HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE DATES: Australia (TBA)
CLASSIFICATIONS: Australia (G), Thailand (G), UK (U), USA (PG)
Gone are the days when animated films were used as devices to distract kids during school holidays while adults did all they could do to avoid them. These days animated films are not only designed to keep adults and children entertained but film companies like Dreamworks and Pixar compete with each other for the holiest of grails – an Academy Award.
The latest film out of the Dreamworks theatre is Abominable – a film that not only shows that Dreamworks have now moved well ahead of Pixar in the animation war, but also a film that looks so beautiful it feels like it should be hanging on the wall of an art gallery somewhere in Paris.
The story of Abominable is a simple one. A young Chinese girl called Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet) is having a rough time in her life. After her father’s death she has had trouble finding time to spend with her mother (Michelle Wong) and her grandmother (Tsai Chin). Instead she spends her time doing any odd jobs she can do in order to make enough money to go on the trip around China that her father promised her.
Her life is suddenly turned upside down though when one night when playing her father’s violin on the roof of her apartment building she discovers a young Yeti whom she named Everest (Joseph Izzo) hiding on the roof. She soon realises that Everest just wants to return home to Mt Everest but he is being pursued by a businessman named Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and his resident scientist Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson) who plan on using Everest as a money-maker.
Determined to get Everest home Yi begins the journey of a lifetime and she ends up accidentally taking her friends Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) with her… despite their protests.
Although simple in nature the plot of Abominable packs a harder punch than expected. The story of Yi’s life falling apart after the death of her father tugs at the heart-strings throughout the film while the film also explores strong themes such as humans using animals for profit and even in the case of Jin how social media can turn somebody into a narcissistic ,judgemental person without them even realising it. In fact Jin’s story is one of the most powerful in the film as his journey across China sees him no longer be able to live his life through social media and his mobile phone, a theme not often explored on the big screen.
While story-wise Abominable is the kind of film that will appeal to both children and adults alike the thing that will impress most cinema-goers will be the look of the film. Co-directed by Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman it is the film’s beauty that lifts it to a whole new level. From beautiful sequences of Yi playing music on an urban rooftop with sweeping cityscapes behind her to the amazing scenes which see the animators catch some China’s natural beauty in such a way that it almost feels like you are watching a documentary. Then there are the times when Everest’s magic ends up with some amazing supernatural sequences that wash over the audience in moments of true beauty.
Both Culton and Wilderman have limited experience when it comes to directing together the two of them can boast working on films such as Monsters Inc., The Croods and Stuart Little between them. That mix of working on some of the biggest animated films of all time explains why they have the knowledge on how to put together a masterpiece like Abominable. The duo know the key to making a film like this is to use something like a cute and fluffy Yeti to win over the kids while the important themes and stunning visuals of the film will also make the film a favourite with adults as well.
The other secret to the film working so well is something that most animated filmmakers wouldn’t even think of. Aside of the two ‘baddies’ most of the characters in Abominable are voiced by virtually unrecognisable actors and actresses. That means the audience can become totally engrossed with the film as they watch it rather than be sitting there and thinking ‘wait is that Matt Damon?’ Sure it means there are no big names on the poster but it does enhance the fantasy a little more for the audience.
For many film lovers Abominable will be one of the sleeper hits of 2019. With little fanfare surrounding the film most people will watch the film not expecting much but will end up being blown away by a film that entertains while exploring serious themes plus has a visual styling that will make sure it is seen as true animated gold.