But there’s more to this tale than meets the eye. While this film is gorgeous to behold with the new tricks that can be done with lighting and transparency in CGI to render some photo-realistic details, the tale needs refining. Here, Ember and Wade (voiced by Leah Lewis and Mamoudou Athie) are complete opposites. One is from a fire nation, and the other water. On certain types of diagrams, they aren’t supposed to meet or combine to form combined substances. When this film is about the four primary elements, any other beings created by their joining won’t necessarily be explained.
One head scratcher is in how Earth and Air are represented. Whether the tree represents the former and a cloud the latter, that depends on what kind of chemical chart you’re looking at.
Writer-director Peter Sohn is better known for The Good Dinosaur. Although that film didn’t win any awards and is considered one of PIXAR’s worst, that’s because the vision isn’t all that clear. He shares the screenwriting credits with John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, and Brenda Hsueh. After checking the IMDB which lists their past works, they don’t sound like veterans on any front. They may be new recruits to PIXAR to help take on fleshing out the many characters introduced in this film.
At least the idea of this filmmaker’s latest about honouring his parents is appropriate. His childhood is certainly revealed from the perspective of a young teen growing up in a world that isn’t truly multicultural. They were immigrants who moved to New York and what they faced in the early years was rough. But if this film is to mirror his life, what’s presented is a very familiar story.
And as for the raison d’être for getting the two close, what they have to do is to find the source of a water leak, report it and they can go their separate ways. However, that did not happen. When there’s no follow-up about their efforts, what happens afterwards is not unexpected.
As for which countries each element represents, I suspect fire is a mix of Asiatic and Arabic influences. The character designs nicely reflect that. However, water is a bit more all over; it’s culturally liquid (pardoning the pun). The architecture and personalities are varied, and I doubt what the production team is really being specific to the world found in Northern Europe.
There’s not enough to say where the other two primary elements come from, but if a TV series gets developed to continue Ember’s story, I’m all for watching it. PIXAR isn’t famous for making followups for all their films and even then, most of the work is because of the parent company, Disney, backing their projects. I like the visual presentation, but as for why these characters matter, the ideas hinted at in Elemental need another film to see how they gel.
3 Stars out of 5
Disney/PIXAR’s Elemental Final Trailer