Elemental

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Elemental
Elemental2023.jpg
"Ember, the shop was never the dream. You were the dream. You were always the dream."
Genre: Romance
Comedy
Family
Directed by: Peter Sohn
Starring: Leah Lewis
Mamoudou Athie
Ronnie del Carmen
Shila Ommi
Wendi McLendon-Covey
Catherine O'Hara
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date: May 27, 2023 (Cannes)
June 16, 2023 (United States)
Runtime: 101 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $200 million
Box office: $496.4 million

Elemental (subtitled Forces of Nature in some countries) is a 2023 American computer-animated romantic comedy-drama film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Directed by Peter Sohn and produced by Denise Ream, it was written by Sohn, John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, and Brenda Hsueh, with Pete Docter serving as executive producer. The overall 27th feature film produced by the studio, the film features the voices of Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Catherine O'Hara. Set in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic elements of nature, the story follows fire element Ember Lumen (Lewis) and water element Wade Ripple (Athie), who meet and fall in love after Wade is summoned by a plumbing accident at a convenience store owned by Ember's father, Bernie (Del Carmen).

Following the release of The Good Dinosaur (2015), Sohn began working on the project. He pitched the concept of Elemental to Pixar based on the idea of whether fire and water could ever connect or not. Elemental draws inspiration from Sohn's youth, growing up as the son of immigrants in New York City during the 1970s, highlighting the city's distinct cultural and ethnic diversity while the story is inspired by romantic films like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Moonstruck (1987), and Amélie (2001). For research, the production team spent many hours watching point-of-view city tours on YouTube like Venice and Amsterdam for inspiration. The animation tools were utilized to design the visual effects and appearance of each character, particularly Ember and Wade. Production on Elemental lasted for seven years, both in the studio and at the filmmakers' homes with the story being finished remotely. Thomas Newman composed and conducted the film's original score, marking his fourth collaboration with Pixar after Finding Nemo (2003), WALL-E (2008), and Finding Dory (2016). With a budget of $200 million, it is one of the most expensive animated films ever made.

Elemental debuted out of competition as the closing film at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 27, 2023, and was released in the United States on June 16 in RealD 3D, 4DX, and Dolby Cinema formats. It has grossed $496.4 million to date. The film received praise from critics for its animation, though its screenplay was considered underwhelming in comparison to Pixar's previous films.

Plot

Fire elements Bernie and Cinder Lumen immigrate to Element City, where they face xenophobia from other elements and struggle to find a home. They have a daughter, Ember (Leah Lewis), and eventually establish a convenience store called the Fireplace, setting up a Blue Flame that represents their heritage and traditions and attracting many fire element patrons over time. Bernie intends to give the store to Ember when he retires, but first, she must control her fiery temper. When Bernie allows Ember to run the shop on her own, she becomes overwhelmed by the customers and rushes to the basement. Her fiery outburst breaks a water pipe, flooding the basement and summoning Wade Ripple, a water element and city inspector. Wade notes the faulty plumbing and reluctantly leaves for City Hall to send the violation report to his air element employer, Gale Cumulus, who will have the Fireplace shut down. Ember pursues Wade but is too late.

Taking pity on Ember, Wade brings her to Cyclone Stadium to convince Gale to reconsider the shutdown of her father's store. Wade mentions to Ember that he was investigating a leak in the city's canals before ending up at the Fireplace, and offers to Gale that he and Ember can track the source of the leak from the store. Gale gives the duo a tight deadline; if they can find and seal the leak, then the violations will be forgiven. While searching the canals, Wade surmises that Ember's temper derives from her trying to tell herself something that she is not ready to accept, but Ember denies this. They then discover a hole in a dam that allows wave runoff from ships to flood the city's plumbing, so they close the hole with sandbags.

Wade and Ember spend time together in the city and learn more about each other. Later, Wade informs Ember that the sandbags do not hold, so Ember uses her glassmaking ability to create a sturdier seal for the hole in the dam. Meanwhile, Cinder suspects Ember is seeing someone and follows her. Ember visits Wade's family at a luxury apartment, where she uses her fire to fix a broken glass pitcher, impressing Wade's mother Brook, who recommends her for a glassmaking internship. Ember also plays the crying game with Wade, in which he successfully makes her cry when he admits he has feelings for her. Gale then calls Wade and gives her approval of Ember's glass seal, thus saving the Fireplace from closure. Ember then realizes that she does not want to take over the store.

Bernie announces his intention to retire and hand the Fireplace to Ember. He tells Ember how, when leaving his homeland, he bowed to his father but his father refused to bow back. The next evening, Wade takes Ember to Garden Central Station to see Vivisteria flowers, which she was denied seeing in childhood. With the station now flooded, Gale provides Ember with an air bubble for safety while Wade pushes her underwater through the station. Afterward, Wade and Ember realize that they can touch without harming each other and share a romantic dance, but Ember is reminded of her duty to the Fireplace and her family's prejudice against water elements, and leaves, upsetting Wade.

As Ember is about to take over the Fireplace during a party, Wade appears and professes his love for her, while also accidentally revealing that she caused the broken pipe. Ember rejects Wade, but Cinder senses genuine affection. Disappointed, Bernie decides not to retire and denies Ember the store. Soon after, the new seal on the dam breaks, and the fire district floods. After saving the Blue Flame, Ember and Wade become trapped in a room in the Fireplace, causing Wade to evaporate from the enclosed heat.

When the flood recedes, a grief-stricken Ember confesses to Bernie that she does not want to run the Fireplace and expresses her love for Wade. Realizing Wade has seeped into the stone ceiling, Ember plays the crying game to get him to drip back into his normal form. Ember and Wade embrace and kiss.

Months later, Wade and Ember, now a couple, leave Element City so Ember can study glassmaking far away and travel the world together. Before she boards the ship, Ember bows to Bernie, who returns the gesture.

Why It's Hot

  1. The animation looks incredibly cool, as it is an amazing step up from previous Pixar productions, like Knick Knack, Lightyear, and even the Toy Story franchise.
  2. The characters are likable, relatable, and interesting, particularly for Ember and Wade.
  3. The voice acting is incredible, especially Leah Lewis, Marmadou Athie, and even Ronnie del Carmen, who is a Pixar employee.
  4. Beautiful score composed by Thomas Newman, who composed Up Close & Personal, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Finding Dory.
  5. The idea of anthropomorphic elements is very interesting.
  6. Ember's relationship with her father, despite her insecurities about living up to his legacy, is pretty heartwarming.
  7. "Steal the Show" by Lauv is an excellent song.
  8. Nice worldbuilding, as the film features a world populated by anthropomorphic elements, although the rule of the universe that elements don’t mix doesn’t make sense.
  9. The designs of the elements themselves are very cool and creative.
  10. The crying game and Wade tasting hot coals are great examples of humor.
  11. Just like Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Inside Out, and Turning Red, this movie doesn’t need any actual antagonists to advance the story.
  12. Good direction by Peter Sohn (who previously directed The Good Dinosaur, Sohn also portrayed Sox in Lightyear).
  13. The scene where Ember finally admits that she does love Wade as soon as Wade is about to evaporate to death is very emotional.
  14. Good ending: Ember confesses to Bernie that she does not want to run the Fireplace and expresses her love for Wade. Realizing Wade has seeped into the stone ceiling, Ember plays the crying game to get him to drip back into his normal form. Ember reciprocates Wade's affection and they kiss.
  15. The film is also notable for being Pixar's first box-office success since Toy Story 4.

Cold Qualities

  1. Some mean-spirited scenes like where Ember told Wade she didn’t love him (mainly out of stress) and then her dad decided that she’s not going to run the shop after she ruined the re-opening of his shop since she fell in love with Wade and broke the pipes (which Wade accidentally exposed) and where Ember and Bernie weren't allowed in the place she wanted to go to see the Vivisteria Flower because they were fire elements.
  2. Ember never told her parents that the town hall was going to close down the restaurant.
  3. Some scenes can be racist.
  4. False Advertising: Katy Perry's song "Hot N Cold" was heard in various TV Spots because of the theme of the movie. Unfortunately, it was never heard in the actual movie, not even in the credits.

Reception

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 73% of 260 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.40/10. The website's consensus reads: "Elemental may not satisfy as fully as the greatest Pixar pictures, but it remains a solid story told with dazzling visual flair." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 58 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Elemental has grossed $154.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $342 million in other territories, for a worldwide gross of $496.4 million. Analysts considered Elemental's success to be an example of a sleeper hit.

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