Elemental (2023) Review



In classic Pixar fashion, Elemental charms its way into audiences’ hearts with vibrant visuals and loveable characters. Despite a few plot points that miss the mark, the overall story leaves you with a heartfelt message of love and acceptance.

Plot: In Element City – a central hub of people made of fire, water, land, and air – a fiery woman named Ember (Leah Lewis) unwittingly befriends a overly-emotional man name Wade (Mamoudou Athie), and their worlds collide.

Review: The film opens audiences to a brand-new world: a city animated with a beautiful palette of colour, detail, and eye-catching wonder. It’s such a pleasure on the eyes seeing the intricacies of Element City, you would think everything was all sunshine and rainbows everyday. Director Peter Sohn does an excellent job grounding the story, as we begin the film through the eyes of migrant flame-parents-to-be, Bernie and Cinder Lumen (their names simplified by a tree-trunk immigration officer).

Their story is a touching and tough one to watch, a metaphor for the immigrant experience that viewers will no doubt catch on; the movie does not dwell too much into the past, and I kind of wish it gave a better reasoning for Bernie and Cinder leaving. Still, the journey the Lumen family goes through in the city was an inspiring one, and solidifies the closeness Ember has with her parents.

The parental relationships portrayed in this film felt genuine and brilliantly done. Between Ember and her parents, and even Wade and his crazy clan, there was a deep level of supportiveness that came from the older characters – something I feel is being represented on screen a lot more. The core romance between Ember and Wade was also extremely sweet and lovely to see unfold. The music was a great accompaniment on screen as well, which really helped push Ember and Wade’s relationship forward emotionally.

The concept of an elemental population is quite interesting, and for the most part easy to follow along. Though there are definitely some heartfelt moments and laughs, the plot itself falls short of compelling. Ember and Wade’s quest to save her father’s shop felt a tad forced – it was entertaining, sure, but the ending felt like it was a sprint to the finish line instead of a graceful conclusion.

Nevertheless, Elemental is strong in the ways Pixar is known for – the emotional message beneath the mesmerizing animation. Definitely a film to watch with the whole family.

Elemental premieres exclusively in theatres on June 16, 2023.