SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Elemental
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Peter Sohn
Writers: John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, Brenda Hsueh
Starring: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie Del Carmen, Shila Ommi
Genre: Animated, Comedy
Rated: PG for some peril, thematic elements and brief language
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Studio Synopsis: Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” is an all-new, original feature film set in Element City, where Fire-, Water-, Earth- and Air-residents live together. The story introduces Ember, a tough, quick-witted and fiery young woman, whose friendship with a fun, sappy, go-with-the-flow guy named Wade challenges her beliefs about the world they live in.
Review: Bernie and Cinder only ever wanted to give their daughter Ember a chance at a better life. As Fire immigrants, the family is looked down upon by the water, land, and air communities. Nevertheless, Bernie and Cinder have carved out a space for a simple life running a fire-friendly convenience store. Bernie wants Ember to take over the store, but her short fuse and a general lack of patience with their customers holds her back.
During the shop’s Red Dot Sale, a particularly explosive outburst from Ember does considerable damage to the store’s antiquated pipes and floods the basement. Wade, a young Water compliance officer, who was investigating a leak in the filtration system is sucked in with the water. It’s an awkward first meeting, as most are in romantic comedies, that sees Wade doling out enough tickets for violations to shut down the store. Ember can’t allow that to happen.
Wade, feeling a sense of guilt (and attraction to Ember), decides to try and undo the mess he’s created.
There’s a simple familiarity to “Elements.” It’s not exactly the star-crossed-lovers story of Romeo and Juliet, but it features that kind of spirit. The metaphor about race is obvious, but the film isn’t pushy or contrived in the way that “Strange World” was. The art design looks a bit like “Inside Out,” but not to the point where it is a distraction. It’s a generally beautiful world to visit.
I wanted to have more of an emotional connection to film. That’s what has set Pixar apart from the pack in years past. Here, the father/daughter relationship could have a little more depth. It feels a little too generic. I know that the filmmakers wanted to make something universal, but I think that I would have given both Wade and Ember a few more wrinkles.
If you are looking for a child-friendly film (“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is likely too intense for younger children) or simply want a feel-good experience, “Elemental” will absolutely check off those boxes. Those looking for something more unusual, immersive, genre bending, or experimental will have to scratch that itch elsewhere.