Elemental Review: Unable To Ignite The Old Pixar Magic
Roll out the red carpet, but perhaps not the fire extinguisher, for Disney and Pixar’s latest attempt at trying to recapture animation magic with “Elemental”. Riding the high waves of Pixar’s past success, this latest offering, unfortunately, barely causes a ripple. “Elemental,” attempts to kindle the flame of originality and fan the winds of creativity. However, instead of a roaring blaze, it ends up more of a smoldering ember, trapped under the weight of the studio’s previous triumphs.
“Elemental” invites us into a vibrant, multi-layered universe where natural elements – earth, fire, water, and air – are anthropomorphized to represent different social strata in a city that mirrors the hustling, bustling metropolis of New York. At the heart of this narrative, we find Ember Lumen, a fiery second-generation immigrant, brilliantly voiced by Leah Lewis, who battles to balance her heritage and dreams. When she encounters Wade (Mamoudou Athie), a water-element city inspector, the two kindle a romance that’s as unlikely as it is forbidden.
Regrettably, the universe that promises so much initially feels under-cooked in its portrayal. The intricacies and complexities of the inter-element relationships are superficially explored, leaving a rich backdrop that’s disappointingly underutilized. A poignant exploration of immigrant communities and interracial love story is somewhat smothered by predictable plot devices, losing its spark in a flurry of clichéd Pixar storytelling tropes.
However, not all is lost in this blaze of potential. The animation remains a feast for the eyes. The playful interaction of Ember’s fiery heat with Wade’s cool liquidity, punctuated by delightful forays into abstract design, truly shines. Furthermore, the score by Thomas Newman hits the mark, with its global music influences crafting a vibrant, immersive auditory tapestry that enriches the cinematic experience.
Positioning “Elemental” amongst the constellation of Pixar’s illustrious filmography, it’s clear that the film fails to reach the lofty heights of classics like “Toy Story” or “Ratatouille”. While it is far from being a total disaster, the film lands in the lower echelons… dare we say even below “Lightyear” to us.
“Elemental” is a film brimming with potential that, sadly, fails to fully ignite. It is a visual and auditory delight, but the “Pixar magic” of storytelling that the studio is renowned for feels distinctly dampened. As much as it aims for a perfect storm, “Elemental” tends to waft away like a light breeze, leaving its audience longing for a substantial, refreshing gust of Pixar’s original magic.
RATING: 2.5 out of 3.
Elemental will be in theaters on June 16th.