“Elemental” is Pixar’s latest animated film that offers a blend of stunning animation, a creatively created word, and perhaps even a few lessons in life. But how does it measure up to the studio’s classics?
The story takes place in a world where the elements are sentient beings. We follow Ember, a young fire spirit, on her journey of self-discovery as she tries to save her father’s store from being closed after one of her emotional outbursts prompts the water pipes to break. Unfortunately for her, the accident also makes the surging water Wade, the water elemental, who works as a safety inspector for the city, and deposit him in the store’s basement. Of course he has to write the violations up and Ember knows that the fines would mean the end of her family’s store, so he follows Wade to convince him to drop the matter, and they soon realize that the underlying problem might be more serious than just a bit of leakage. The two work together to get to the bottom of the looming disaster and discover that opposites do attract and that following other people’s dreams might not be the highway to happiness.
Visually, “Elemental” is a feast for the eyes, which is really no surprise considering this is a Pixar movie. The elemental world is rendered with remarkable detail, and the puns and subtle (and not so subtle) jokes hiding in the background might warrant a rewatch or two. Regarding the humor, well…, I think the film does a good job of catering to its target audience. While realizing that the local sports team is called Windbreakers may just bring about a small chuckle out of the adults in the theater, there is little doubt that kids below the age of 12 still find flatulence jokes as hilarious as their parents did a quarter of a century ago.
The film’s pacing generally does a good job at keeping viewers engaged, with either emotional, action-packed, or humorous sequences filling out the film’s runtime of 109 minutes. The filmmakers deserve some credit here for making the flick comfortable short, as they seem to have understood that there is no way kids who slurp up all their coke in the first 10 minutes upon arrival could make it to the end of a more than 3-hour long film (yes, I’m looking at you James Cameron).
However, the film does suffer from a somewhat formulaic and predictable plot. It follows the familiar hero’s journey, which, while engaging, may not offer many surprises to those familiar with animated storytelling conventions. We also get some parental conflicts, “elemental race-relations issues”, and classic setbacks. Despite this, the execution of the film compensates for the more predictable elements, and the love story of Ember and Wade does have a positive message regarding finding one’s true self and overcoming seemingly insurmountable differences.
In conclusion, “Elemental” is a solid addition to Pixar‘s filmography. While it may not reach the heights of their greatest works, it still manages to impress with its stunning visuals, and it remains an enjoyable cinematic experience for audiences of all ages.
Cover credit: Image by Pixar
In conclusion, "Elemental" is a solid addition to Pixar's filmography. While it may not reach the heights of their greatest works, it still manages to impress with its stunning visuals, and it remains an enjoyable cinematic experience for audiences of all ages.