When teenage Yi (Chloe Bennet) encounters a young yeti on the roof of her apartment building in Shanghai, she and her mischievous friends, Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and Peng (Albert Tsai), name him 'Everest' and embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on earth, evading the wealthy industrialist Mr. Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and his team of henchmen...
Adventure movies, particularly animated adventure movies, benefit from having wild and untamed imaginations. The more colourful and vibrant the settings, the more it pops out of the screen and gathers up young imaginations in the process. Connecting it altogether, however, is the story and the characters and it's in here that you tell the difference between the memorable and the forgettable. On that basis, 'Abominable' snags it because while it might not have quite the original story, it definitely has an imaginative and memorable character in Everest, the fuzzy young yeti who somehow winds up in Shanghai.
Designed by the same team behind 'How To Train Your Dragon', Everest's shaggy-dog exterior and approachable nature automatically endears you to them. That the main character, Yi, treats and interacts them first like a pet, then later like a friend, means that we're carried along on the same path. Again, the story beats are familiar, but when you've got this lovable a central character along for the ride, it's all the more fun. Couple that with a decent voice cast that includes Eddie Izzard as a wealthy industrialist (with a furry vest, not unlike Mr. Burns from 'The Simpsons'), Sarah Paulson as the scientist helping him and Chloe Bennet as the hardworking teen being chased by them, and it's all ticking along like clockwork.
The animation is smooth and well captured, and the natural locales of China - from the sprawling, 'Blade Runner'-tinged cityscape of Shanghai to the snowbound mountains of the Himalayas - are all realised with the kind of postcard beauty you'd expect. Again, the animation and the colouring is what brings out 'Abominable' and keeps it moving forward when the story begins to sag or become rote, which this kind of effort inevitably will.
For those who grew up on the likes of 'ET: The Extra-Terrestrial' and 'Free Willy', there's nothing new here in 'Abominable' - except that it's now packaged in animation and set in a vaguely unfamiliar place. Kids will get a big kick out of how cute and furry Everest the Yeti is, and adults will enjoy the warmth and charm of it all mixed with the animation. In short, it's a sweet, fun-filled adventure story that's familiar, yes, but still enjoyable nonetheless.