MOVIE BUFF-ET: Humor, charm make up for Abominable’s familiar plot


It’s another light week for new releases at local movie theaters with only Dreamworks’ computer-animated “Abominable” taking a bow.

The movie has a cookie-cutter plot, but enough charm, humor, and lovely imagery to make it an enjoyable and somewhat educational family movie if you are a fan of animation.

Set in China, the film depicts three youngsters Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet), Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) escorting a young Yeti, which they name Everest, back to his home in the Himalayas.

The magical ball fur, who has the personality of a large dog and the strength and dexterity of an ape, escaped capture from a scientific compound owned by the elderly adventurer Burnish (Eddie Izzard) who made it his life’s goal to catch a Yeti prove his doubters wrong. Burnish is assisted by zoologist Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson), who has her own agenda for what to do with the Yeti once he’s recaptured.

New In Local Movie Theaters

  • Abominable(PG) 1 hr. 37 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight

Burnish, Dr. Zara, and their paramilitary henchmen chase our heroes thousands of miles across China, creating a travelogue of sorts with stops on the Yangtze River, the Gobi Desert, and Leshan where the 233-foot tall Buddha statue is carved into a cliffside. Not coincidentally, all of those landmarks were places Yi’s late father wanted to visit with her prior to his death.

Yi, a talented violinist, had been working multiple odd jobs since her father’s death in an effort to save enough money for the trip, but the cost included neglecting her relationships with her mom, grandma, and friends.

On their trek, the three city kids gain an appreciation for nature and learn that items that seem like necessities — stylish sneakers and the latest cell phones — are merely luxuries that they can take or leave.

The film, directed by Jill Culton, won’t ever be confused as a classic. I doubt that it will take the place of Dreamworks franchises like “Kung Fu Panda” or “How to Train Your Dragon,” unless the movie does incredible business in China, but the gorgeous design and animation work along with its humor gets the movie over the hump of its lack of originality.

It’s a safe and solid enough choice for a family outing until more promising animated fare like “The Addams Family” and “Frozen 2” debut on Oct. 11 and Nov. 22 respectively.

(PG) 1 hr. 37 min.
Grade: B-

Classic Corner – Celebrate Halloween with Turner Classic Movies

With September drawing to a close and October drawing nigh, the thoughts of many movie buffs turn to their favorite spooky movies. The programers at Turner Classic Movies are aiming to please connoisseurs of things that go bump in the night throughout the month of October with horror movies taking center stage on Thursday nights and Godzilla movies ruling the roost on Friday nights.

Of the 15 Godzilla movies that will be played in October, 10 of them have never aired on TCM — “Godzilla Raids Again” (1955), “Ebirah, Horror of the Deep” (1966), “Destroy All Monsters” (1968), “All Monsters Attack” (1969), “Godzilla vs. Hedorah” (1971), “Godzilla vs. Gigan” (1972), “Godzilla vs. Megalon” (1973), “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” (1974), and “Terror of Mechagodzilla” (1975).

The fun kicks off on Oct. 4 with the original Japanese version “Gojira” at 7 p.m. CT, followed by the Americanized cousin “Godzilla, King of the Monsters” at 8:30 p.m.

This Thursday, though, witches are the theme with “Bell, Book and Candle” (1958) kicking off the event at 7 p.m., followed by “Horror Hotel” (1960), “The Devil’s Own” (1966) at 10:15 p.m., “Suspira” (1977) at midnight, “Night of Dark Shadows” at 1:45 a.m., and “Haxan” at 3:30 a.m.

Bell, Book and Candle

“Bell, Book and Candle” is somewhat of an odd choice for Halloween. It’s a 1958 romantic comedy starring Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, and Ernie Kovacs that served as inspiration for the long-running 1960s sit-com “Bewitched.”

In the film, Greenwich Village witch Novak enchants book publisher Stewart in more ways than one when she casts a love spell on him to get back at an old college enemy, to whom Stewart happens to be engaged.

Novak is stunningly beguiling in the role, and Stewart is properly frustrated and flummoxed, but Lemon as a warlock friend of Novak’s and Kovacs as an occult researcher and writer steal the movie with their supporting roles.

The film isn’t Stewart’s best work by a long shot, but fans of “Bewitched” who have never seen it might enjoy seeing where the root of the idea came from.

Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages

On the other end of the spectrum from “Bell, Book, and Candle” is the 1922 silent film “Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages.” It’s a Swedish-Danish silent documentary on the history of witchcraft that contains some of the wildest and creepiest imagery ever committed to celluloid by noted filmmaker Benjamin Christensen, who also portrays Satan in the movie.

Much of that imagery was culled from a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors and contains depictions of witches, demons, and other underworld beings doing some incredibly gruesome things.

Billed as an explanation of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could generate the hysteria that prompted the witch-hunts, torture and executions that were prevalent in Europe from the medieval period through the 17th century.

The film isn’t exactly scary. Some find aspects of it quite humorous, but the film does provoke the imagination. Scenes have a nightmarish quality that makes you want to look away at times, but then draw you back in.

“Haxan” might not be a movie you want to sit through for its full running time, but it’s definitely worth catching a few minutes of it just to get the feel of the movie.