Production Companies: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios
Director: Peter Sohn
Producer: Denise Ream
Scriptwriters: John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, Brenda Hsueh
Main Cast: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Catherine O’Hara
Release Date: July 7th 2023 (UK)
Running Time: 109 minutes
Well Elemental hasn’t set the world alight as Pixar hoped… Terrible pun segue aside, Elemental continues Pixar’s recent trend of solid enough films that unfortunately just can’t hold up to the classics. This isn’t me saying Elemental is an inherently bad film but at points it does feel like a reskinned Zootropolis (or Zootopia) with some elemental puns sprinkled on top for good measure. That’s definitely a hot take…. Anyway, enough with the pretence let’s get into the review now.
Elemental follows a society of anthropomorphic elements and in particular a fire element, Ember (Lewis), and a water element, Wade (Athie), as they go on a Romeo and Juliet style story which mostly revolves around a water dam breaking and nearly flooding Firetown. And yep, Firetown is Ember’s home. On their way to save Ember’s home, both Ember and Wade go on a journey of self discovery, standard for Pixar protagonists, where they realise they have more in common than they first imagined.
Screenplay in Elemental
Now visually and animation wise, Elemental holds up there with a lot of Pixar’s best films. However, at points it falls into the age old trap of style over substance. This is mostly because its screenplay feels very lacklustre. Imagine if you combine Romeo and Juliet and Zootopia but changed the characters for elements. This results in a mediocre screenplay, far from the normal standards of Pixar. So, while the film does as well as it can with it the lacklustre screenplay fails it. Take for example, the entire opening sequence where Ember’s family are looking for a home within Element City but are turned away constantly. Now, what other Pixar film deals with xenophobia and how the main character struggles to deal with it? Zootropolis. Simply put it feels lazy to almost recycle the same opening and expect it to pass by audiences because of how stylised the animation is.
Animation in Elemental
However, on the flip side, Elemental’s animation is very nice. So at least you’ll have a nice film to look at to distract from the lacklustre story. A perfect example of this is the ending where Ember ends up ‘crying’ Wade back after he saved her from drowning. Firstly, a fantastic ending to a kid’s film. And secondly, the animation for Wade falling from the ceiling is very smooth as the water drops almost look real. Another example of the smooth animation is in any of the scenes where characters are walking under the train bridge. Just look at how nice the water animation is as it slowly reveals Ember as well as just being gorgeous to look at. Yet more examples of the animation being great are when Wade tries Ember’s dads food. The fact they animated bubbles into Wade’s mouth and also that they made him so expressive is remarkable. But then again saying that is like saying water is wet….
To summarise Elemental, this is a solid enough film which is very well animated but unfortunately suffers from a lacklustre script which often undermines the story. Unfortunately, Elemental will likely fall into the mid category of Pixar films as it will likely be forgotten in a few years…
Overall Rating: 5.5/10 – Above Average
Target Audience: 10+
Content Warning: Mild Sex and Nudity, Mild Frightening and Intense Scenes