Genre: CG Animation
Director: Peter Sohn
Cast: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie Del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Catherine O'Hara, Mason Wertheimer, Joe Pera, Matthew Yang King
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Mature References)
Released By: Walt Disney Studios
Official Website:

Opening Day: 15 June 2023

Synopsis: Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” is an all - new, original feature film set in Element City, where fire, water, land and air residents live together. The story introduces Ember, a tough, quick-witted and fiery young woman, whose friendship with a fun, sappy, go-with-the-flow guy named Wade challenges her beliefs about the world they live in. 

Movie Review:

Every time this reviewer steps out of the cinema after watching a Pixar movie, he would think, “It isn’t that difficult to come up with a simple concept and tell an awesome story with it, right?” There were toys that came alive when their owner isn’t looking, talking cars that travelled the highways of life, marine animals that helped a micromanaging clownfish find his lost son, and colourful beings inside your mind that represent different emotions.

The animation studio’s latest movie features talking elements of nature (now why didn’t we think of that?) who come together to live in a place called Element City. This is a Pixar production, so there is definitely a bigger story to tell.

The protagonists are Ember (a fire resident) and Wade (a water resident) and the very different lives they lead. Ember is the daughter of an immigrant couple who is facing xenophobia as they are not the majority element. The father of the family owns a convenience store and Ember is expected (of course) to take over the family business. You can already see a story exploring race, identity and culture emerging. Wade is a city inspector who lives a sheltered life, and he finds himself in the store’s basement one day when a water pipe leak happens. Sounds weird? This is really part of Pixar’s inventive storytelling, and you really just have to go along for the ride.

As the story progresses, Ember and Wade get to know each other better and you realise this is also a movie about forbidden love. Fire and water falling in love? That’s really a simple but genius concept. Elsewhere in the story, there is also a plot about the duo trying to save the store from being shut down.

Prior to helming this movie, Peter Sohn directed The Good Dinosaur (2015), a very straightforward Pixar film that didn’t exactly soar at the box office. The animator has also worked on other Pixar titles like Finding Nemo (2003) and The Incredibles (2004), and done voice acting in movies like Ratatouille (2007) and Monsters University (2013). His second full length directorial effort is a visual delight, and features delightfully imaginative animated sequences that will have you smiling. As a filmmaker raised in New York by Korean immigrants, we can sense that Sohn is genuinely interested in telling a story about finding your place in a city where you feel you don’t belong.

It doesn’t take long for you to realise that the fire residents represent Indian immigrants. There are several sequences in the movie that have Asian influence, and viewers in this part of the world may find them relatable.

While there are a few themes to unpack in this 109 minute movie, the visuals are enchanting enough to keep you engaged from beginning to end. Even if you had wished that certain story plots could do with more depth, you would be captivated by how the elements are visualised on screen with vibrancy and energy. Thomas Newman’s score is an absolute pleasure with its ethnic flavour, and we are really hoping that the composer would be recognised for this wonderful work.

There are also evidently kid friendly elements (pardon the pun) in the movie. The land resident featured in the marketing materials is a kid who grows flowers from his armpits. It’s funny, but definitely not in the smartest sense. The air residents have some air (pardon the pun again) time in a sports tournament sequence. Other than that, the movie is really about fire and water, two very different elements who figure out how opposites attract.

Movie Rating:


(Fire, water, land and air come together in a story of forbidden love and culture clash, featuring a delightful showcase of light, colours and music)

Review by John Li


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