I wasn’t expecting much from “Elemental.” Starting with “The Last Dinosaur,” the films (with the exception of “Coco”) lacked the quality storytelling that Pixar was always known for. All the trailers for “Elemental” were underwhelming, and it seemed that Pixar was about to give us another movie that focused on being overly preachy instead of entertaining.
“Elemental” may not be a perfect film, but there is definitely something there that shows that they are trying to get back to being the classic Pixar we once loved.
“Elemental” takes place in Elemental City; where the four elements of fire, water, earth, and air are living entities that try their best to coexist. Most elements have a problem with fire because of its destructive nature. The fire people have an extreme hatred or fear towards the water people, since water can cause lots of problems in their habitat.
Ember Lumen (Leah Lewis) is a fire element. She is a teenage girl that loves her family and is learning the family trade in order to prepare to one day take over her family’s business. Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie) is a water element. He is an inspector that threatens to report Ember and her family’s business over some code violations.
At first, Ember and Wade let their prejudice get in the way and have a hard time accepting each other. Eventually, the two realize that instead of hating things about each other, they find there are many things that they come to like about each other. Ember is torn between her love for her family and her love for Wade and must ultimately make a choice that could change her life forever.
What I liked about “Elemental” was that movie focuses on family. Ember and her family love each other very much. Her parents sacrificed a lot so that she might have a better future. And Ember loves them so much, that she is willing to sacrifice her dreams in order to make them happy.
That is the heart of the movie. In the end, when you love someone, their happiness comes before your own, and vice versa. That’s a great message, and the movie communicated it well. I think the voice actors all do a great job, which is very important for a movie. It seems like most animated movies want to cast Hollywood stars instead of professional voice actors for the roles of the characters. And maybe some of them are stars, and I just don’t know them. (But none of them are Awkwafina!)
The love story is a bit unbelievable. I know that they say opposites attract, but Wade is just so annoying and overly sensitive. For me, he is the biggest problem with this movie. Ember is a confident, aggressive go-getter, and Wade spends most of the movie crying. Nope, that is never going to work.
The animation was another problem. They just seem generic and lack quality effort. I guess it’s hard to draw elements as people, and they felt this was the best that they can do, but I can’t see kids pushing their parents out to go out and buy any “Elemental” merchandise for them.
Another aspect I really loved was the musical score. Recently, the scores for Pixar movies have been forgettable at best.
Some of the greatest and most memorable music scores for Pixar movies have been written by Thomas Newman. He did the score for “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E,” and it was a nice surprise to learn that he also did the score for “Elemental.” Newman has also done the score for movies such as “The Shawshank Redemption,” “American Beauty,” “Interstellar,” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” You just know his music when you hear it, and I look forward to hearing his “Elemental” score again.
The one word that came to mind after seeing “Elemental” was potential. This could have been a Pixar classic. It’s not, but it’s much better than most of what we have seen from Pixar lately. I think there are some things that both parents and children will enjoy, but not everything. Don’t go in expecting to see “Toy Story” or “Finding Nemo,” but don’t worry about seeing another “Onward” or “Lightyear,” either. “Elemental” did leave me optimistic. I feel like Pixar hit a double with this one, and maybe we will see a home run with their next movie.
I give Elemental a 7/10.
BONUS REVIEW: “Dug Days: Carl’s Date”
It’s nice to see that Pixar is doing shorts before the main feature again. This short is called “Carl’s Date,” and it stars Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) and Dug from “Up.” It was great to see Carl and Dug back again; it would have been nice to have seen Russel too, but my big problem with this is that Carl is going on a date.
Sure, Ellie has been dead for many years, and Carl needs to move on and enjoy his life, but it was established in “Up” that the love between Carl and Ellie was beyond special. The whole movie centered on the fact that Carl was moving their house to Paradise Falls because of his love for Ellie. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but there are times Carl seems enthusiastic over the date, and I just didn’t like that. What’s next? “Carl Has Triple Bypass Surgery?” I’m just saying they could have easily done a short called “Carl Takes Dug For A Walk,” and that would have been just as good, if not better.