November 17, 2019 – This American-Chinese animated film about three kids on a journey with a magical Yeti features a compelling story, believable characters and beautiful animation. It is a co-production of Dreamworks Animation and Pearl Studio (formerly Oriental DreamWorks) and the blend of eastern and western sensibilities is obvious in this film.
The central character in this story is Yi, a teenager who lives with her mother and grandmother in China. Devastated by the death of her father, she spends her days in feverish activities, working a variety of odd jobs, apparently to make enough money for a series of trips she has planned to visit places her father always wanted to visit.
Yi's mother asks her one day to play her violin (that she inherited from her father) but she says she sold it. In fact, she still has the violin in her private hideaway on the roof of the apartment building where she lives. She spends a lot of time alone when she is not in school or working.
One day a Yeti (a creature of legend, also known as an “abominable snowman” or “bigfoot”) appears on the roof. It has escaped from a nearby facility owned by a wealthy businessman, Mr. Burnish. Burnish had plans for a public unveiling of the creature, proving its existence to the world. He had seen one when he was young, but nobody believed his story. Now, he would prove them all wrong.Yi is frightened by the large, angry creature, but she hides it nevertheless when a helicopter flies overhead, piloted by one of Burnish's employees, looking for the creature. Soon after, she discovers the Yeti's gentle nature and binds his wounds, which happened during his escape. She discovers that the home of the Yeti is near Mount Everest, so she plans to help him escape from the city and get to the mountain. She names the Yeti Everest, after his home.
Yi's friends, Peng and Jin, find out about Everest, and are eventually caught up in a big adventure when Burnish finds out where Everest is hiding. Everest and Yi escape, with Jin and Peng following closely behind. They all end up on a barge headed up river, and they all eventually agree to Yi's plan to take the Yeti back to his home in the Himalayas. Jin is the oldest, a tech-savvy lady's man, while Peng is the youngest, a basketball fanatic.
The rest of this story is a series of adventures to places that have special meanings for Yi. In effect, it is about Yi's emotional journey. The story reveals the real motivations behind Mr. Burnish's actions, his true nature, and some of his employee's secret agendas are also revealed, as well as the many magical abilities of Everest, who represents the embodiment of nature itself. There is some beautiful animation in this imaginative film.
This is a film all about inclusiveness, kindness, empathy and healing, which are all things sorely lacking in today's world, it seems. Maybe that is why I found this film so emotionally appealing. Sure, it is unrealistic escapism, but it offers something uplifting about the human spirit that many films lack. This film rates an A.
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