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Visual elements of 'Elemental' are a treat
Justin at the Movies

You would be hard pressed to find a studio that churns out animated juggernauts quite like Pixar. Everything from Toy Story to The Incredibles to Up has been met with resounding success. So, does Elemental measure up to their previous efforts? Not exactly, although it does retain enough charm and wit to be passable.

Elemental takes place in Elemental City where the four elements (Fire, Water, Earth and Air) have their own world and they do their best not to get mixed up. Two fire elements named Bernie and Cinder (Ronnie del Carmen and Shila Ommi) leave their home after facing prejudice from the other elements. Their daughter Ember is born and they have a business known as the Fireplace, a convenient store. Bernie intends to give the store over to Ember when she gets older. 

The adult Ember (Leah Lewis) has trouble with her temper that eventually causes her to break a water pipe and then she meets Wade (Mamoudou Athie), a water element and a health inspector. Wade feels sorry for Ember, but must report the damage to his job and the family has one week to repair the damage or lose their home and business.  

Wade and Ember get to know each other and he convinces her to come to his waterworld, even though elements are forbidden to mingle. He introduces her to his family, including his mother (Catherine O'Hara). His family loves to play a game called the Crying Game in which each person tries to think of something to make them cry. 

The relationship between Wade and Ember reminded me a lot of other Pixar romances such as WALL-E and Eve and there are elements (no pun intended) of other movies, such as Moonstruck and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. The chemistry between the two is fleshed out to make it interesting, but the overall result isn't quite as memorable. 

Of course, with this being a Pixar movie, the visuals are top-notch. We do get to see a great amount of detail in the animation of the four elemental (again, no pun intended) worlds and each of them are distinguishable and engaging. Both the Fire and Water cities get more than enough screen time to show us what they're like and from a technical perspective, they're great to look at.

As for the rest of the movie, I'm just a little disappointed because Pixar has shown how they can take the oddest of concepts and characters and hit just the right note of emotionality. Elemental only works in small doses. 

It does succeed in using each element as a metaphor for those who are different and trying to blend in and create a sense of harmony and that works just enough. 

Elemental is not top-tier Pixar material with its story not being on par with previous efforts, but its visuals and its message of choosing to see others who are different as equals is wonderful for kids. 


Grade: B

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