Abominable, The... (2007)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Heather DeVan, Nick Orefice, Jason DeVan, William Joyner, Jason McNeil, Paul Delea
Directed by Patrick Donahue
A costume shop Yeti suit, wretched actors often performing in front of obvious green screen backdrops, Photoshop-quality computer effects, mismatched editing that often smacks you over the head like a hammer blow, continuity errors all over the place, and all manner of real-life stock footage (of different film quality, no less) spliced in with the actual movie footage to substitute for stuff they couldn't afford to shoot (helicopters and various San Francisco scenery in particular), I really do believe The Abominable... is the sort of movie Ed Wood would be making if he was around today.
Like Cine Excel's long-on-the-shelf giant ant flick GiAnts (review) that I reviewed a few months back, The Abominable... somehow found its way onto Japanese DVD, albeit under the alternate title of Ice Kong. Initially designed to ride the coattails of Peter Jackson's King Kong remake, The Abominable... is one I'd been anticipating like a giddy schoolgirl ever since getting a glimpse of its trailer. That such a film boasting production values along these lines could exist in this day and age, it's impossible to even watch so much as the trailer and not find yourself thinking that this has got to be some sort of a joke. I suppose you have to admire the ambition of a company to make a King Kong knock-off for pennies on a dollar. Then again, when the Abominable Snowman sends a guy flying and we're treated to the sight of an action figure being tossed through the air... Honestly, at what point does a filmmaker concede that they're in way over their head?
Dino De Laurenitiis had a famous quote in regards to his 1976 remake of King Kong: "When monkey dies, everybody cry." I've got my own version in regards to The Abominable...: "When 'Snowy' appears, everyone cries tears - of laughter." The film's heroine who the giant Yeti takes a shine to actually nicknames it "Snowy", and why not? It looks to be about on par with a college football mascot costume based on the Abominable Snowman from Rankin-Bass' "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer". Every second it's on screen I was looking for the zipper; I think I even saw it a few times. They even digitally animated eyes for it during certain close-ups; eyes that don't always match up and seem to be floating around inside its head. If Kong was "The 8th Wonder of the World" then Snowy is "The 9th Wonder of the World", as in you wonder how they could expect anybody to take it seriously.
Quite a sight to behold; too bad it's a sight we don't get to behold until almost an hour in and aside from very briefly skulking about the San Francisco skyline and climbing up and down a building, it doesn’t have much to do and its interaction with people, places, or things is at the bare minimum. You know what you call a giant monster movie where the giant monster doesn't really do anything? Supercroc. And let me assure you that you do not want your giant monster movie ever compared to Supercroc.
So you got this cute blonde chick named Ally who like most cute blonde chicks in California is big into animal rights. The PETA-esque group she's involved with break into this research facility run by scientists that have been conducting illegal and inhumane experiments on monkeys. She’s out to stop them and bust Jacko, a heartless poacher of primates who sells his simians on the black market. When the animal activists burst in the scientist guys start doing away with any incriminating evidence, while Jacko, right in front of Ally and the other protesters, bludgeons a monkey to death still in its travel crate and heaves it all into a nearby incinerator. This makes Ally very sad.
Know what else makes Ally sad? When cops show up and since there's no evidence supporting the animal rights group's cause, what was supposed to be an exposing of animal cruelty now ends up looking like a bunch of militant animal activists breaking and entering. Since Ally was the one who organized the raid, the other members of the animal rights group make a deal with the cops to not have any charges pressed against them in exchange for kicking Ally out of their little group. This makes Ally so sad she goes home, flops down on the couch, and begins pouting like a pre-teen girl upset because she didn't get invited to a party the popular kids were throwing. She'll do a lot of immature pouting along these lines before the movie is over.
That's the thing about Ally; you got this pretty twenty-something blonde playing this character who seems to be mentally and emotionally on the level of an adolescent. Ally seems to be not just emotionally stunted, but has the naiveté of a small child.
There's a scene later on where Ally will be in a tent up in Alaska with Jacko and his small posse of poachers all crowded into this little tent where they keep leering and sneering at her with these looks of sinister bemusement yet instead of being like any other intelligent woman thinking she might be moments away from getting gang raped and murdered, instead Ally smiles and takes a sip of the cup of hot chocolate they gave her, seemingly oblivious that she's surrounded by men of evil intent.
How evil are their intentions? Fortunately for Ally, rape doesn't seem to be in the cards. Murder, however, is a definite possibility. They're practically up around the Arctic and as a joke they’ll lock her out of the tent, forcing her to sleep outside for the night in what should be sub-freezing temperatures. One would think this would lead to her freezing to death. One would think wrong.
But immunity to sub-freezing temperatures aside, something is definitely wired wrong in this girl's head. If it had been explained at some point that this girl was supposed to suffer from some form of mental retardation that rendered her child-like then this would have been a potentially Oscar caliber performance. Instead, if you're like me, you'll be watching this and wondering what's wrong with this girl; she can't possibly be this dumb. Well, yeah, she can.
And speaking of award-worthy performances, if I were Joe Bob Briggs I'd be nominating the guy playing the poacher Jacko for a Drive-In Movie Award. This guy is awesome! Are you familiar with the character of Shane on "The Shield" played by Walt Goggins? This Jacko dude, played by the wonderfully named Nick Orefice, is like the Shane character reinvented as Lex Luthor. Take Walt Goggins, shave his head, and just to make it all the more awesome, give him a feral quality. Sometimes the rat-faced sneer on his face makes you wonder if he's going to begin sniffing the air like a rodent too. The character of Jacko is supposed to be vermin and Orefice plays him as such. Always sneering with his teeth in a rat-like manner, plus this crazed gleam in his eye that makes you wonder if he's going to go completely insane at any second, often sounding antsy and hyped up on something; it's simply awesome to behold. Screw the Yeti; Jacko is the best thing about the movie.
Ally's daddy is a salty sea captain who likes to tell tall tales of the giant Abominable Snowman creature he's seen up near Alaska. Jacko overhears him telling someone about this giant Yeti creature and decides that if this story is true and he captures it, he'd be set for life. In coercing out of him the necessary information for finding it, daddy suffers a fatal fall. Right on cue, in walks Ally to see this evil poacher she cannot stand and his goon squad looking down on her dead daddy's corpse. Jacko starts feeding her some B.S. about how it was an accident and the two were going to work together to catch the Abominable Snowman, and because Ally is a friggin' idiot, the girl actually believes him. She even agrees to tag along on the trip in search of the giant monster as a tribute to her dead daddy.
So dumb is Ally she doesn't even bother to tell her reporter boyfriend that she's setting sail to god knows where with the criminal who killed her father but she's too stupid to realize it. Seriously, even in a fictional film, how can anyone be this dumb?
That reporter boyfriend will spend a good chunk of the movie running around the docks of San Francisco looking for leads as to his dimwitted girlfriend's whereabouts and, eventually, who killed his dimwitted girlfriend's daddy and where did his dimwitted girlfriend's daddy's boat go. Fortunately, his role is rather insignificant until it finally comes time for his climactic street brawl with Jacko.
Depending on the green-screened landscape the actors are shown in front of, this off-shore area near Alaska is either a jagged glacier, a frozen tundra, or a snowy mountainscape. The only natural set during this entire sequence is the inside of a tent.
Exactly how Jacko plans to capture this gigantic Yeti is never actually explained in so many terms, but from what we were left to gather it seemed to involve large ropes and a bazooka that fires a really big dart that looks as if it might be filled with Reanimator serum. Amazingly, the plan works and the next step is to transport it to San Francisco in what looks like a really big jail cell inside the bowels of a freighter. Now the Yeti's sad.
It's here that Ally befriends the beast and dubs him "Snowy", fitting given what a simpleton she is. Their relationship is less of a King Kong/Ann Darrow "beauty & the beast" and more along the lines of a retarded girl who befriends a bewildered behemoth that is just happy to have a little person around that doesn't constantly scream or shoot at it. She's more a calming force than an object of affection.
Upon docking at Alcatraz, Snowy abruptly decides it’s time to breakout. Like Kong, Snowy climbs a building: a Bay City skyscraper in this case. But before it can get gunned down and fall to its death, Ally will jump out of a helicopter hovering above the building without a parachute (I told you this girl doesn't have an ounce of common sense!) and slides down the building's steeple right into the waiting hands of the monster. Snowy then calmly climbs down the building and the two take refuge in a giant cave across the Bay where she'll tend to the minor wounds it has received. Snowy's climbing of the building is pretty much the film's highpoint (No pun intended) and even it's pretty uneventful outside of idiot Ally's inexplicably near suicidal behavior.
After entirely too much third act down time, Jacko plots to recapture his giant-sized jackpot, Ally's boyfriend looks to save her and stop him, and the military prepare to bring down the beast the moment it rears its hairy head again with little regard given to the safety of the woman it’s carrying around. Kong's mea culpa came atop the Empire State Building; Snowy makes his last stand along the Golden Gate Bridge. Between the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me effects work, numerous continuity errors, and positively jarring editing decisions, both Snowy and Jacko will meet fates that left me bewildered as to what I’d just watched happen. Given everything that preceded it, a "WTF?!" finale seems rather appropriate.
But outside of a few fleeting moments of Plan 9 From Outer Space-level fun, a ham-tastic performance by the film's villain, and an overall sense of I-cannot-believe-this-movie-actually-exists, Cine Excel’s homegrown Kong wannabe is, sadly, pretty much a talky, inactive bore lacking even the wacky on-the-cheap imagination of GiAnts. People watch giant monster movies for the giant monster and expect to see the giant monster actually do monstrous things. There's just not enough of the Abominable doing abominable things in The Abominable... to make The Abominable... anything other than abominable.
1 1/2 out of 5
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