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REVIEW: ‘Elemental’ Is Worth Seeing in Theaters, but for an Unexpected Reason

ember and wade in elemental
Leah Lewis as Ember Lumen and Mamoudou Athie as Wade Ripple in 'Elemental'. Credit: Disney/Pixar

The new Pixar movie Elemental is the talk of the town (as is the deceptively upsetting Up short that comes before it).

The new film about the four main elements (air, fire, water, and earth) is floundering at the box office so far, with many audience members finding the movie to be charming but not entrancing.

However, there is one unexpectedly redeeming quality about this film that might just make it worth the price of a ticket!

Elemental follows Ember and Wade, a hot-tempered fire girl and a sensitive water guy, as they begin secretly dating.

Ember and Wade in Elemental

Leah Lewis plays Ember Lumen, and Mamoudou Athie plays her love interest Wade. Credit: Disney / Pixar

As usual, the creators and writers behind this Pixar film seem eager to show off their creative talents.

There are just as many intriguing or amusing details in the world of Ember and Wade as there are in films like¬†Zootopia¬†(2016) or¬†Finding Nemo (2003), and there are also a few tear-jerker moments just like there are in many other Pixar movies (Inside Out’s Bing-Bong, anyone?).

On-the-Nose Immigration Metaphors

Obviously, the conflict between fire and water is a major plot point in this film; however, an arguably larger underlying focus is the struggle of immigrants.

Ember’s family often describes the hardships and prejudices that they faced after leaving Fireland for Element City, and these challenges are also a clear source of conflict between Ember and Wade (not to mention Ember and every other non-fire character she meets).

Pixar's Elemental Characters

Leah Lewis plays Ember Lumen, and Mamoudou Athie plays her love interest Wade. Credit: Disney / Pixar

Flawless Voice Acting

Another review described Elemental as middle-tier Pixar, and it is true that the film does seem to mainly consist of standard Pixar fare.

However, the casting of the voice actors for this Pixar movie was spot-on. Leah Lewis is a superb choice for a fire character, since her husky voice lends itself well to a sardonic and grounded character like Ember Lumen.

Meanwhile, Jurassic World: Dominion star Mamoudou Athie fits his water character Wade flawlessly, with a distinctly smooth voice that flows just like liquid.

The two actors’ talent and their voices’ harmony add an extra dose of passion to their characters’ relationship, emphasizing what becomes a genuinely-moving romance.

elementals Mamoudou athie and leah lewis with their characters ember and wade

Leah Lewis plays Ember Lumen, and Mamoudou Athie plays her love interest Wade. Photo credits: Pixar

Love Is All You Need

Overall,¬†Elemental¬†is definitely worth a watch. With breathtaking visuals from the Pixar animation team, an impressive level of creativity, and a love story that proves to be surprisingly poignant and passionate — not to mention plot points that will strongly resonate with anyone from a marginalized community — it is certainly a good movie.

However, is it fantastic enough to merit a theater ticket? Based on the movie’s overall impression, no — but the romance in this film redeems Elemental¬†and actually makes it worth the price of a matinee ticket, if you’re a sucker for a sweet love story!

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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