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ELEMENTAL movie review

ByTaylor T Carlson

Jun 9, 2023

ELEMENTAL is directed by Peter Sohn. It features the voices of Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Catherine O’Hara, Mason Wertheimer, Joe Pera, and Matt Yang King. This is Pixar’s 27th feature film; the theatrical release is accompanied by the DUG DAYS short “Carl’s Date.”

Cinder and Bernie are fire people who’ve moved to the big city to pursue their dreams and raise their daughter Ember. Ember is being raised to take over her parents’ fire store, but her temper and inability to deal with frustrating customers give her parents doubts regarding her ability to do so. When Ember meets a water person she finds herself smitten with, she’s conflicted between following her own dreams, or doing what her parents have been preparing her for.

It’s hard to believe Pixar has been making theatrically released feature films for nearly three decades now! This is a company who has long managed to find that perfect middle ground, creating colorful and bold films that are a delight to children, but just as appealing as adults due to their depth and approach. While the company has had a few missteps, their track record is far more positive than negative. ELEMENTAL is a feast for the eyes with its unique setting and characters who represent the elements, and its attempts at social commentary and a compelling story mostly succeed.

Where ELEMENTAL shines brightest is its visuals. This is that rare movie where you don’t want to take your eyes off the screen. Kids will be drawn to these visuals because of their colorful and attractive nature. Adults will be attracted to them because of what a technological marvel it is. Even though Pixar certainly has more competition these days than ever before when it comes to 3D animation and films, they remain at the forefront, and the setting and characters this time around prove this beautifully.

Once again, Pixar has created intriguing characters that have depth and are fun to spend 100 minutes with; with the wrong characters and voice actors, any film would be a chore to sit through. One of the biggest surprises of this film is how few of the actors I found myself familiar with when viewing the cast list. Yet I was awed by how perfectly everyone captured their characters and the story unfolded. Much of the movie serves as a metaphor for immigration and the racial experience, including interracial relationships and interaction. When a studio is this good at social commentary while being able to fuse it with a family-friendly narrative and gorgeous 3D animated visuals, the results speak for themselves.

The film mostly succeeds, and its only real misstep is biting off a bit more than it can chew in terms of characters. Many of the secondary and tertiary characters feel like they’re only in the movie to exist as one-joke site gags, and while these are admittedly hilarious in most cases, it does seem a bit disappointing to be introduced to a handful of characters who are largely “one and done.” Fortunately, this is a mild complaint overall.

ELEMENTAL is Pixar doing what they do best, and it’s another hit for this legendary house of animation, reaffirming why they’re among the best at their trade. It’s gorgeous to look at, it’s intelligent, heartwarming, hilarious, and a surprise in all the best ways. Highly recommended for young and old audiences alike!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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