Elemental Review: Pixar’s Latest Fails to Make a Splash ★★★☆☆

4 mins read


Review of Pixar's Elemental

Stunning animation, rich world-building and a sweet romance at the centre of it. Disney Pixar’s newest film Elemental had the potential to be great. However, with its overdone concept and lackluster conflict, it has missed the mark.

Released in cinemas on the 7th of July, Elemental is an animated romantic comedy, produced by Walt Disney and Pixar Studios, directed by Peter Sohn and produced by Denise Ream.

The story is set within a world populated by anthropomorphic elements – fire, water, air and earth – and follows our two leads Ember Lumen (Leah Lewis) and Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie) who are brought together in meet cute style fashion when a pipe bursts in the basement of Ember’s father’s shop.

Elemental tells a traditional version of the immigrant tale. Ember’s parents Bernie and Cindy (Ronnie Del Carmen and Shila Ommi) risked everything to travel from their homeland to Element City in order to have a better life.

It is this decision and the struggles they face as fire elements in a place which doesn’t accept them and is also actively dangerous for them which creates Ember’s central conflict of repaying her parents sacrifice even to her own detriment.

While this is an experience a lot of viewers will likely be able to relate to, the decision to tell this story through the abstract concept of anthropomorphic elements results in the references and depictions of the fire element’s struggles feeling heavy-handed and removes a lot of the nuance of the immigrant experience.  

However, like in all Pixar animations, the character art and the world they built is visually beautiful. It also does a fantastic job at portraying how Element City simply isn’t built for fire elements and actively works against them, particularly in the way that water is a large aspect of the cities architecture.  

As well as its narrative function, the inventiveness and distinct style of each of the districts, the modes of transport and how the characters interact with the world are fascinating to watch on screen. 

A definite highlight of the movie is Ember and Wade’s relationship. While Pixar films have explored the romance genre before, Elemental is the first to have a romantic storyline be one of the central aspects. 

Ember and Wade’s characters and personalities compliment one another so well, they learn and grow from their interactions together and the chemistry between them feels real and believable.

While their character traits are stereotypical, this is overshadowed by the charming bond they develop over the course of the film.  

In comparison to Ember and Wade’s relationship arc the central conflict of the film feels lackluster and is resolved far to quickly and cleanly. It gives the impression of an after-thought rather than a tension-fuelled climatic moment audiences are expecting.  

Elemental has some high-highs but unfortunately those highs are obscured by the lows and with Pixar’s library of incredible films its fails to make the big splash it was hoping to.       

Elemental is showing in Cinemas now.

Featured Image: Pixar

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