Pixar’s latest film is fun but feels as though it is lacking a bit of the emotional heart that we have come to expect.
With similar vibes to Disney’s Zootopia and aspects of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Elemental is a fun and imaginative adventure that will certainly appeal to a younger audience, but given the immense appeal of Inside Out for adults and kids alike it feels a shame that Elemental doesn’t quite achieve this.
Set in Element city, in which all the elements live in harmony with each other – except those who live in the fire town district who are considered to be outcasts by the other elements. Bernie and Cindy Lumen have moved into the city to set up a store and raise their daughter Ember, a fiery (in all senses of the word) personality who they hope will take over the shop one day. However, after an accident in the shop which leaves its future in jeopardy, Ember meets the watery Wade a government building inspector who is certain to penalise her parents for what happened. But of course as they get to know each other better things take a more romantic tun and they end up working together to help save the store and the change perspectives of fire.
Featuring a screenplay by John Hoberg, Kat Likkel and Brenda Hsueh, Elemental has a cute script that will draw young audiences in but feels as though it is slightly lacking the sophistication and emotional core that we have come to expect from a Pixar film. That is not to say it isn’t imaginative, with Element city itself giving off similar vibes to Zootopia in terms of specific parts of the city being devoted to certain elements and themes of immigration intertwined in there give the story solid ground to build on and makes topics like this easily accessible. But it all feels just a little simple even if the romance between Wade and Ember is endearing to witness as they try and figure out how they can touch without damaging one another.
At the same time though, there are still plenty of laughs and fun to be had, with a memorable sequence taking place at Wade’s family home or the moment in which we see Wade getting sucked into a sponge when he was a child are just a couple of highlights to be found dotted throughout the film. Meanwhile, once again the animators have managed to make it feel as though the story is jumping off the screen, with all the elements have an extraordinary detail to them that makes you want to reach out and touch them. This is where the true magic lies – I loved the vibrancy of the colours that is mesmerising in every scene.
The cast themselves really add a lot of depth and detail to their characters. Mamoudou Athie is a joy as Wade, providing great energy, charisma and sincerity throughout in a way that is completely endearing. In contrast (but well matched with Athie), Leah Lewis captures the spirited and passionate nature of Ember, really capturing the character’s journey of self-discovery with style. Together, they both manage to balance out the character’s strengths and weaknesses in a complimentary way and makes the romance seem believable.
Overall, while there is much to be enjoyed about Elemental it just feels as though it is lacking that extra spark (excuse the pun) to take it to an extra level.
By Emma Clarendon