Yi (Chloe Bennet), a teenage girl in modern-day China, longs to travel to all the places in the country she and her dad were planning to go to prior to his untimely death. In the midst of this mournful longing, she encounters a Yeti of all beings on top of her apartment building, hiding from scientists (Sarah Paulson and Eddie Izzard) wanting to expose him. It is suddenly on her and her two friends Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) to get this Yeti — whom Yi calls Everest — home to the Himalayas, even with the scientists on their tail.
Abominable is the second co-production between Dreamworks and China’s Pearl Studio; their first being 2016’s Kung Fu Panda 3. While the two films are both set in China, that’s really where the similarities stop. The two studios really outdid themselves with Abominable, for it is a much stronger and captivating collaboration.
The animation is absolutely gorgeous to look at. With the film set all over China, the different landscapes and environments the heroes travel to really make way for just how much the studios have improved over the years. It’s definitely one of those films that makes absolute sense to watch on the big screen, for a better experience to take it all in.
It is this newer collaboration between Dreamworks and Pearl Studio that makes it much more obvious that the latter had a strong hand in maintaining cultural accuracy. Not to say that wasn’t the case for Kung Fu Panda 3, but it’s much more apparent this time in the details both big and small. The crew behind the film really took their time with making this place that’s in our world feel just as real in this fantasy adventure.
The story flows really well and the characters are lovable. It also means a lot that a majority of the leads are voiced by Asian Americans. Other than Bennet, Tsai, and Trainor, Tsai Chin and Michelle Wong are in the film too, and so many of the additional voices heard throughout the film are mostly from Asian American actors. It’s a step forward for Dreamworks in diversifying its voice casts.
Now Abominable is not, by any means, perfect, for there were a few spots that could have been a lot stronger. There were various subplots and character developments that were really rushed. Had more time been devoted to letting those elements simmer, they could have made for a stronger effect on the film. At the same time, when you’re telling a story that’s to be kept to an hour and a half run time, there’s only so much you can do.
Otherwise, this was definitely one of the better films to come out of Dreamworks. If anything, if you are a fan of the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy — with its wondrous ability to combine fantasy, adventure, and tender moments together into a cohesive story — then you’re going to like Abominable. It comes to theaters September 27.