A film made by Pearl Studio and Dreamworks Animation, “Abominable” is written and directed by Jill Culton, an animation veteran with credits reaching back to the first “Toy Story.”
The story will strike you as familiar: a creature (in this case, a yeti, or the titular abominable snowman) many would assume to be dangerous escapes captivity and befriends a youth who is going through something emotional. They bond, and undertake a journey to bring the creature back home (or what is assumed to be their home).
It’s a huge project for Pearl, who have worked on past Dreamworks films but handle the heavy lifting this time out, featuring all-Asian protagonists. They go all out with their animation, featuring some lovely sequences that have an Asian flavor of magical realism, using nature and dreamy landscapes to good effect.
While the characters are charming enough, “Abominable” falls shy of greatness. There’s a generic feeling from the situations and characters that makes it feel like the filmmakers were making notes while working on “Kung-Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
The characters could’ve used some more specificity, and some breakthroughs are a little trite or convenient, especially a twee and forced use of Coldplay’s “Fix You.” Ugh. The villains, in particular, are uninspired. The main baddie feels like he was upcycled from parts of Christopher Plummer’s “Up” antagonist.
It is heartening, though, to see a focus on family and not some shoehorned love angle. Its visuals suitably impressive, it’s a good first step for Pearl, and with a more rigorous story development process it won’t be a surprise if they wow us with their next project.