Just in time for the holidays, Universal Home Entertainment has released the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD of the animated Dreamworks film Abominable. The Blu-ray release includes a DVD copy as well as a digital code to access the film; it also features two original animated shorts and no fewer than 12 bonus features.
The film, itself, is a cute take on the legend of the yeti (aka the abominable snowman). It centers on a colorful cross-section of Chinese youths partaking in an adventure to return the escaped mythological beast to its home in the Himilayas, while avoiding its militarized eccentric collectors / pursuers. Abominable hits all the marks of a typical Dreamworks animated film; the universal themes of importance of family and friendship are interwoven with numerous pop culture references in a fast-paced, light dramedy with alternatingly plucky music and sentimental orchestral swells. The imagery is simply fantastic. The texture of the animated forms, the brilliant colors, and the scope of the direction — particularly when it relates to showcasing action sequences in animated facsimiles of wondrous Chinese landscapes and citiscapes — make this an incredible showcase of hi-definition resolution. In short, the film is a marvel to behold.
The film is presented in its native aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen, and includes English, French Canadian, and Latin American Spanish audio and subtitle presentations. The English audio track is in Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 2.0; the Spanish and French are in Dolby Digital Plus 7.1. For the film’s commentary track, writer/director Jill Culton, co-director Todd Wilderman, producers Suzanne Buirgy and Peilin Chou, production designer Max Boas, visual effects supervisor Mark Edwards, and head of character animation John Hill join in from, presumably, different locations as the recording qualities on their voices vary. The commentary demonstrates the creators’ pride in their work, reveals the rationale behind character motivations, offers explanations behind various artistic decisions, and features lots of yucks throughout.
The extensive bonus features begin with the enjoyable short Marooned, which is about a stranded robot trying to return home from the moon; and a 2D-ish looking short called Show and Tell, which plays like an afterthought to Abominable and features the Yeti character. Then there are deleted scenes, which are introduced by Culton and Wilderman; the scenes themselves were never properly animated, so they are essentially voiced animated storyboards. Then there is “Making a Myth,” a little documentary that includes discussions of the monster’s design, the casting of people of Chinese heritage, the motivation of the film’s emotional arc, and various odds and ends of the production details. The rest of the features include showcases of the film’s technical aspects, discussions with individual cast and crew members, a brief guide on caring for pets, an impressive comparison of some of the beautiful, Chinese locations with their animated counterparts (with actor Chloe Bennet as the guide), cooking instructions on how to make Xiaolongbao (a variety of dumplings showcased in the film), art instructions on how to draw the film’s characters and put the images into your own Chinese paper lanterns, life lessons, and how to talk like a yeti.
The film is a charming spectacle, and this Blu-ray presentation highlights its visual and audio strengths. The cooking lesson and some of the inspirational testimonials of the cast and crew will appeal more to grown-ups, and there are plenty of entertaining shorts to keep the kiddies busy for hours. For those who like the Dreamworks vibe, this is probably a must-have. For others, the plot and storytelling may not be particularly groundbreaking, but the spectacle is no less than amazing.