Exploring the Flares and Flaws of Pixar’s ‘Elemental’

Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ recently got released in India and people have mixed reviews on it considering the studio’s legacy. Scroll down to read our review of the film.

Pixar studio has a reputation of giving us all some of the best animated adventures of all time. Their movies have the power to make people of all ages cry big tears but the studio seems to be finding it difficult to maintain the high standard it is known for from the past few years. Their recently released movie “Elemental” is surely an emotional and thrilling film but for so many it didn’t match the expectations. The story revolves around Ember Lumen, a girl made of fire who lives with her family and helps her father run his shop and how she fell in love with Wade, a man made of water. The concept is what you think it is. It took a metaphorical question of how can fire and water fall in love? At first, we saw Ember being enthusiastic about running the shop and how she wants to take over the responsibility but it gets revealed later that she did not want to do it and was just afraid to tell this to her family. Hearing just this much about the plot might help you understand and predict most of the movie. Just a few minutes in and by the visuals, pace, themes and characters, you’ll find a lot of the things familiar about it. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an enjoyable watch.

Trailer of Pixar’s Elemental

Things we liked about Pixar’s Elemental: 

How it addresses the inner conflicts – 

It brings out the most common themes we have seen in movies about immigrant families. How the elderly have worked so hard to give their children a good life in a big city after leaving their home and working tirelessly. In such cases, the children often are under pressure to perform, do well and stand up to the expectations of their parents. In the case of Ember, she knew that her father would be proud of her only when she did her best to run the shop which also included keeping her “temper” under control. “Be nice and make connections”,she repeats whenever she encounters a problematic customer or situation. In such cases, children are scared to communicate about their feelings to their parents as the fear of letting them down is overwhelming. But in Ember’s case, she told herself that she wanted this for such a long time that she forgot or never knew what she actually wanted. The film highlights our inner conflicts when it comes to choosing for ourselves. 

It’s not always black or white: 

Another important theme that the film explores is hate for people who are different from you. Throughout the movie the hate for water people by the fire people has been explored especially through Ember’s father. But good or bad people can exist in any community but that doesn’t mean that all the pre-existing notions distract us from seeing good in people.Ember’s life gets turned around when she falls in love with Wade and how the chemistry between them has been shown in the film is visually stunning. 

Snippet from the film “Elemental”

Reasons why it couldn’t be the best piece of Pixar – 

Flashbacks weren’t strong enough to leave an emotional impact – 

In animation, we get to understand and connect with the character with the flashback scenes and Pixar is known for some good ones. My personal favorite has been the flashback stories from the movie “Coco”, specially the scene where we see the childhood of grandma Coco where her father played that special song for her. In the case of elemental, we did not get to see many strong flashbacks except the one where the father goes against the will of his family and leaves the fire town. He bows down in respect of his father but his father couldn’t see anything past his disappointment. Another flashback scene included Ember’s childhood memory when she could not see a special kind of flowers as fire people were not allowed in the museum shows how the community was discriminated which would have made a good teary flashback story but it was all poorly executed and would have become much better if it was given enough time. There weren’t many such scenes in the film that made it harder for us to connect with the characters. 

Dialogues and some events in the film were more concerned about giving out the information than to feel real

Dialogues play an important role in keeping the audience invested in the film and the characters. There weren’t many dialogues that could move you in the film. Like the scene where Wade interrupts the Ember’s party was supposed to be a touching moment. There was a room for a good monologue or a conflict but it all gets wasted with average writing. In the film, Up (2009), when Carl read the diary of Ellie where it’s written that “Everyday was an adventure with you” This line wouldn’t be this much impactful if Ellie’s love for adventure wasn’t explored earlier in the film. In the case of elemental, it falls flat when it comes to well-written scenes and dialogues. 

Snippet from the film, Elemental


Elemental isn’t a bad movie but considering the legacy of Pixar, it is far from being the studio’s best film. Somewhere you might think if the love angle of the film is forced and it would have been much better if it just explored the inner conflicts and communication gap in the family. The plot was predictable, dialogues were stuffy but apart from that it still is a good watch if you’re looking for something light. 

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