Tag Archives: Animation

Heading Home: A Review of Abominable

Everest the yeti cuddling with the three teenage protagonists of Abominable. Content warning: vomiting and references to the death of a parent. I will not be discussing these things in my review.

Abominable is a 2019 American animated children’s fantasy film about three teenagers who travel from Shanghai to Mount Everest in the Himalayan mountains to return a kidnapped Yeti they nicknamed Everest to his home.

They must accomplish this while avoiding the wealthy businessman who wants Everest back and the zoologist he hired to track down this rare and valuble creature.

 

Characters

Chloe Bennet as Yi
Chloe Bennet as Yi

Yi was a violin-playing teenager who lived with her mother and grandmother. Their family could afford the basics in life but had to budget carefully for anything beyond their simple lifestyle. 

The cool thing about Yi was that she was always looking for a way to pay for her own treats. She wasn’t afraid of hard work if it would get her access to things that her family couldn’t otherwise afford.

Albert Tsai as Peng

Peng was a friend of Yi’s and Jin’s cousin. He was a playful, fun-loving teen who sometimes had trouble thinking through the probably consequences of his actions before trying something new. 

Tenzing Norgay Trainor as Jin
Tenzing Norgay Trainor as Jin

Jin was a friend of Yi’s and Peng’s cousin. He’d always lived in a very financially stable home and sometimes had difficulty understanding why other folks were cautious with their possessions and money. 

Joseph Izzo as Everest
Joseph Izzo as Everest

Everest was the the young, impulse, friendly Yeti at the heart of all of this conflict and adventure.

Eddie Izzard as Burnish
Eddie Izzard as Burnish

Burnish was a wealthy man and head of Burnish Industries. He wanted to have a pet Yeti all to himself. 

Sarah Paulson as Dr. Zara
Sarah Paulson as Dr. Zara

 

Dr. Zara was a zoologist working with Burnish to capture a Yeti for him. She was an intelligent and resourceful woman who looked for every opportunity to get what her client wanted.

My Review

What an adventure this story was!

Yi was such a memorable main character. She had a sweet but sometimes stubborn personality that shone through no matter what combination of emotions she was currently experiencing. I thought the screenwriters did an excellent job of capturing the ups and downs of being a teenager, especially one that had already been through as much adversity as she had.

I enjoyed Pen’s innocent approach to the things he and his friends experienced. He seemed young for his age in the sense that I wondered if his parents were much more protective than the parents of his friends.

It took me a while to warm up to Jin because of how different our childhood experiences were as far as knowing the cost of common items and our expectations surrounding the shopping process go. I couldn’t imagine shrugging off some of the financial stuff he did, but his maturation in this area went a long way in endearing me to him. Some kids genuinely do grow up in families that buy them anything they want. I envied those kids a little when we were peers, but this film did a great job of showing the eventual downside of that sort of lifestyle.

The storytelling itself was marvellous. I loved the way all three main (human) characters reacted to Everest and how compassionate they were when they realized he needed to be protected and brought back home. There were so many heartwarming moments between all four of them.

The Yetis in this film were quite different from the ones I reviewed in Smallfoot earlier this month. I’d better not go into detail here, but I would recommend taking the time to compare and contrast them to anyone who watches both of these films.

Abominable Snowmen are fascinating creatures in general, and I’m glad to see them getting more attention in the media. Every reinterpretation of what they might be like if they were real creatures only pushes them into the limelight once again, and I like that.

This tale was filled with adventure from beginning to end. I had such a good time following along on the main characters’ trip to the Himalayan Mountains. The only piece of constructive criticism I can give to it is that I wish it had spent more time showing what Yeti society was like in general. Smallfoot did a great job of showing Yetis at many different ages and stages of life.

Everest was a very young Yeti, and there weren’t too many examples of other members of his species. So there were a few times when I wasn’t sure if his behaviour was due to his species or the fact that he was probably the equivalent of a preschooler or young child as far as his development went.

With that being said, this is a minor criticism. The rest of this film was well written and entertaining. I am planning to rewatch it and hope anyone else who gives it a shot enjoys it just as much as I did.

 

Abominable is available on Crave and Apple TV.

Seeking the Truth: A Review of Smallfoot

Film poster for Smallfoot. It shows the main character holding up an elusive smallfoot (aka human) while other members of his yeti village look on in fear, pride, and/or excitement. Smallfoot is a 2018 American children’s animated fantasy film about a yeti who is convinced that those elusive creatures knowns as “smallfoots” or “humans” really do exist.

Against the better judgement of the leader of his people and nearly everyone else in the village, he seeks out the truth about these mythical beings no matter what the cost may be to him or to his people.

As soon as I saw the trailer for this film, I was intrigued. Critical thinking and skepticism aren’t topics that are typically covered by stories meant for children.

No, this wasn’t written for or against any particular belief (or non-belief) system if anyone is curious. Instead, it was about using critical thinking skills to analyze the evidence, determining what it’s saying, and then following those clues to their logical conclusion(s).

In this case, that meant accepting the possibility that Yetis may not be alone on this planet after all.

Characters

As always, I speak of characters in the past tense to avoid spoilers in my reviews. I also needed to leave certain characters out of this for spoiler reasons, so be warned if you google this film before watching it!

Channing Tatum as Migo
Channing Tatum as Migo

 

Migo was a young, intelligent male yeti who was determined to prove the existence of the smallfoot. His father was named Dorgle.

Zendaya as Meechee
Zendaya as Meechee

 

Meechee was a young, intelligent female yeti who yearned to discover the truth. She was the Stonekeeper’s daughter and Migo’s love interest.

Common as Stonekeeper
Common as Stonekeeper

Stonekeeper was the condescending yeti chief and father of Thorp (not pictured) and Meechee. His role in their village was both a spiritual and political one. The stones he wore on his body wrote the laws his species followed, but he also had the ability to speak to the spirit world and discover new laws when it suited him.

Danny DeVito as Dorgle
Danny DeVito as Dorgle

 

Dorgle was a dependable middle-aged yeti who was the village gong ringer and Migo’s widowed father. He took his work seriously and was always on time for it.

James Corden as Percy Patterson
James Corden as Percy Patterson

Percy Patterson was a British human filmmaker of wildlife documentaries trying to get back in the spotlight. Sometimes this desire for fame pushed him into making unethical choices like bending the truth in order to get more views online.

Yara Shahidi as Brenda
Yara Shahidi as Brenda

Brenda was Percy’s co-worker for his show. She didn’t believe in Yetis, but she did have a strong moral code that guided her every move even when Percy thought she was being too much of a stickler for the rules.

My Review

The premise of this film was amazing. Not only were the yetis the protagonists which was a wonderful change from the typical, human-centred approach to stories about mythical creatures, Migo and his people had a well-developed and unique culture that I was eager to learn more about.

One of the most interesting things about their culture were the stones that the Stonekeeper wore as a sort of cloak around him. Each stone contained a different pictograph about something that happened in their past that had taught them a valuable lesson about how they should live.

Discovering and interpreting them was a major facet of the Stonekeeper’s job. I loved the way his reaction to that responsibility was portrayed, especially during the earlier scenes before Migo began his quest to find out if the legend of the smallfoot was true.

A large group of yetis gathered around a fire listening to stories.
Story time in a Yeti village.

I also enjoyed the reactions of the various villagers to Migo’s quest. Some of them supported him, while others were suspicious of his intentions or horrified at the thought that the stonekeeper might be wrong about his interpretations of certain stones.

Yes, there are obvious parallels between these scenarios and our world. I’ll leave it up to all of you to put the pieces together. What you should know is that despite the strong fantasy setting this film is ultimately pro-science, pro-logic, and pro-truth.

It didn’t bash anyone or anything. It simply asked the audience to think critically about what they’re told and compare it to what they’ve observed about the world around them. That is something I find incredibly refreshing.

With that being said, I did feel like the filmmakers never quite knew what to do with all of these big ideas they broke down into concepts that small children can understand. The beginning and ending were well done, but the middle sagged for me.

While I do expect animated stories to include silly scenes, there were so many of them in this film that the plot dragged on in places it should have kept up the pace in my opinion. This made it hard for me to keep paying attention even though I was interested in how everything would be tied up in the end.

Was this worth watching? Yes. Would I watch it again? Probably not. But it is something worth putting on for small children or while you’re working on something else.

 

Smallfoot is available on Crave and Apple TV.

Vintage Science Fiction Month: It’s a Bird

Vintage Science FictionVintage Science Fiction Blog Challenge badge. It shows a rocket ship against a red background. There is a bubble city in the background. month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:

 – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier

 – talk about it online sometime in January

 – have fun

If any of my readers are also interested in participating this month, let Little Red Reviewer know about your posts if you’d like them to be included in her official roundups. 

This week I’m going to be talking about “It’s A Bird,” a three-minute, stop-motion animation film from 1930 that featured Charley Bowers and a metal bird that was capable of turning metal scraps into something incredible.

Harold L. Muller was the director of this film. Click here to watch it or check out the embedded version below. It is safe for viewers of all ages.

Caution – Major Spoilers Below

Think about all of the hours of work that went into creating this film! Every single frame of it had to be painstakingly recorded and then stitched together. There weren’t any computers, much less CGI, to make that job easier.

I loved the world building of this film. Charley was just as surprised as the audience was by the existence of a metal bird who ate metal and turned all of those scraps into a beautiful, white egg.

The fact that the egg hatched into a brand new car made me laugh! I was expecting another metal bird to start running around. Honestly, the only thing better than that was the parent-bird’s response when Charley said that he wanted to take the bird and start making a whole factory’s worth of new cars for them to sell.

I might have done the same thing if I were in his shoes. When you find yourself in a surreal situation, why not take it to its logical conclusions?

This is something I would love to see a sequel for. Where are the other metal birds, if they still exist or ever existed? Where did this metal bird come from? At what point does a car evolve into a bird in this universe? Or does every mechanical creature spawn offspring that look nothing at all like itself?

What a fun story it was at any rate. I’m glad I had a chance to blog about it for Vintage Science Fiction month.

Hopping Through Life: A Review of Easter Bunny

Today’s post will be a quick review of the short film Easter Bunny in honour of the Easter holidays coming up this weekend. This film was created by Asa Lucander in 2012, and I enjoyed it so much I simply had to share it with all of you.

Feel free to watch it before reading my review if you’d like. It’s about two minutes long, and the plot follows a small, black rabbit who is bouncing and hopping through all sorts of different environments.

Easter Bunny from Asa Lucander on Vimeo.

One of the things that first stuck out to me about this short film is the fact that it has no dialogue. There is some bubbly background music, but anyone could understand the story just fine if they couldn’t or didn’t want to hear the music. I haven’t seen too many examples of short films like this, so it’s a treat every time I stumble across one.

I liked the fact that this storyline seemed to be created for kids and adults alike. Without giving away spoilers, there were certain things that happened during the course of the bunny’s journey that were definitely meant to make adults laugh while still being totally appropriate for even the youngest audience. It isn’t easy to appeal to such a wide audience range, but Mr. Lucander made it look effortless.

One of the questions flitting through my mind as I watched was why the bunny was called an Easter bunny since the beginning didn’t seem to have anything to do with that holiday at all. The answer to this question wasn’t immediately obvious, but I did like seeing what the filmmaker came up with to tie everything together.

Normally, I include constructive criticism in my reviews if there was something about the characters, dialogue, or plot that didn’t quite feel right to me. I believe in being absolutely honest in reviews while also treating the creator with the same kindness and empathy I always hope the reviewers of my work will have for me. There’s also something to be said for building up a reputation as a reviewer who doesn’t sugarcoat the things that didn’t work for you.

With that being said, Easter Bunny was perfect the way it was. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about it, and I will be recommending it to family and friends of all ages.  Two minutes was exactly the right amount of space to give to this plot, and I’m glad the creator didn’t try to shorten it down or stretch it out.

I don’t recall ever watching one of Mr. Lucander’s films before. Based on my experiences with this one, I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything else he’s created. He has a playful and creative storytelling technique that I enjoy quite a bit.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all of my followers.  If there’s another holiday at this time of the year that you celebrate, Happy _____ as well!