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Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The best Disney/Pixar film since "Toy Story 4" four years ago, ELEMENTAL is visually brilliant, heartfelt fun.

The immersive world the animation team has created is an absolute blast, with eye popping detail in every corner.

Welcome to Element City, where all the citizens belong to one of four groups, Fire, Water, Land or Air. They all live together in a skyscraping modern metropolis. The film's creators do a great job tailoring each mode of transportation or home to the diverse elements, loading every minute with visual surprises.

Ember (Leah Lewis) is a fiery young daughter of proud parents. We get a glimpse as the film opens of her Father and Mother arriving in Element City for the first time, immigrants from a far away Fire land. Her father Bernie would love her to take over his neighborhood shop, but Ember is a bit too hotheaded to take care of customers.

She meets young City Inspector Wade (the winning Mamoudou Athie) when he is poured through pipes into the shop during a water leak. Soon, the shop is failing every inspection and looks bound to close.

Ember heads off to stop Wade from filing the paperwork, starting an adventure that pulls us through the city from one clever scene to the next.

Ember begins to fall for Wade's kind heart, while shaking her head at the never ending fountains of tears that he and his family produce upon any hint of emotion. Writers John Hoberg, Kat Likkel and Brenda Hsueh craft a fun, thrilling adventure that delivers big laughs and real heart while also addressing discrimination, generational expectations and family.

Director Peter Sohn is back in the chair for the first time in 8 years, since "The Good Dinosaur" bombed for Disney. The press would have you believe that ELEMENTAL suffered the same fate, but after a soft weekend, strong word-of-mouth carried this one to over $450 million against it's $200 million budget as of this weekend.

Sohn has said that the film is based on his life with his parents immigrating to the USA from Korea to the Bronx, not speaking any English upon his arrival. His parents also opened a produce store similar to then one Ember's parents do in the film. His experience informs the story with some harsh rejections for the elements as they tread into the other element's neighborhoods.

There's a lot to be thought about here, but its delivered with real emotion, not a sledgehammer. There are moments that near the heart of "Coco", which is for me Pixar's finest moment of the past couple decades, perhaps all-time.

If the final scene doesn't choke you up a bit, you're made of tougher elements than me.

Thomas Newman's (Skyfall, The Green Mile) music score is one of his best, creating unique sounds for each society while falling back into romance as Wade & Ember bond. The sound design team led by Benjamin Burtt (Black Panther, Tog Gun: Maverick) delivers an incredible Dolby Atmos surround experience that pulls you into each environment while weaving harmoniously with Newman's score.

I loved the sequence in which Wade carries Ember inside a bubble through tunnels of water to a beautiful landmark from her childhood that springs to life around her. The entire sequence is flawless, with long tracking shots that seem photo realistic, balanced with perspectives that convey the scale of the action. Funny, beautiful and suspenseful, it delivers more in that five minutes than the entire running time of recent Disney misfires like the idiotic"Strange World".

I'm going to call Pixar officially back with this beautiful, enjoyable and touching journey into a world you've never seen. With this much talent and real emotion on display, it's ELEMENTAL that we blaze Pixar's latest with an A.

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Unknown member
Aug 18, 2023

I was really hot and cold on this one! 😁

Unknown member
Aug 18, 2023
Replying to

LOL I see what you did there, Mark.

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