Abominable (2019)

“I wish there was a way out of here.”

There are far worse films than Abominable that you could empty out your wallet for during a family night at the movies, but I’m night quite sure this flick actually earns those dollars either. It’s an extremely derivative, narrow minded, pigeon toed picture that certainly looks stunning yet has nothing original or remotely new to say with its universal story of finding home. That it’s the third animated creature feature of the year to tackle eerily familiar territory is unfortunate (Smallfoot and Missing Link beat it to the punch), so it should come as no surprise that none of those three stand out from the crowd much. Abominable isn’t a bad movie, it’s just wildly unoriginal and totally forgettable.

Disappointing as a whole, Abominable at least shows the rare glimpse of a creative flair during the opening sequence. In what looks like a video game story mode, we see an escape attempt unfold from the perspective of a creature held captive in Taiwan. Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson), a zoologist whose intentions seem compromised from the jump, sends the henchmen of rare species collector Mr. Burnish (Eddie Izzard) after the beast. It escapes, takes refuge on a rooftop, and comes across the equally emotionally displaced Yi (Chloe Bennet). Yi is a young hustler, always moving and saving her money, all while distancing herself from her Mom (Michelle Wong) and her Nai Nai (Tsai Chin). We come to find out that it’s how she avoids the mourning that should have happened after the loss of her treasured Father. She sees pieces of herself in the terrified creature.

Yi names him Everest (voiced through mumbles by Joseph Izzo), enlists the help of some neighbor boys in her building – the spirited Peng (Albert Tsai) and the self-absorbed Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) – and on the run they go, tagging along with the Yeti to the highest peaks of the Himlayas. The setup here is decent, but the journey in Abominable is about as invigorating as your daily walk to the mailbox; you can pretty much do it blindfolded, and most days you can guess every single scrap you’re going to get with the odds being ever in your favor. That’s how rote and routine this good-looking yet blandly designed film feels, and there isn’t a thing about it that manages to surprise or make you squeal out with joy. For a movie that tries to re-purpose postcards for the sake of packaged emotional resonance, it somehow forgets to sign them with a unique signature.

Borrowing the friendly beast dynamics of the How to Train Your Dragon saga, lacking the magical depth and the memorable tune of Coco, less authentic than Big Hero 6, and outright stealing the emotional instrumentation of the masterful Kubo and the Two Strings, Abominable is the type of film that tries to tell a story by copying and pasting the most integral aspects of better, more specific stories. A lot of time and effort and money went into crafting Abominable, which makes it all more unforgiving that the script says and does everything we’ve already seen, and without a personality to boot. It’s hard to believe the chorus of heartstrings here when the movie itself feels so lifeless, and when it copycats the sure melodies of far better movies.

“We are completely lost.”

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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