By: Reel Dialogue
Over the past few years, Pixar has been relegated to Disney+ and has struggled to rediscover its voice in cinemas.
Onward, Luca, and Soul were films swept away in the COVID wave, while Turning Red and Lightyear were easily forgettable. Yet, in this post-COVID era, there is a hope the animated innovators would get their mojo back. Instead of returning to their treasure trove of hits for a sequel, they decided to develop a whole new world for audiences to discover with Element City.
In this metropolis that combines the elements of fire, water, land, and air as residents, this city is beautifully manages to house them all. At the same time, they tend to remain segregated within each city borough. At the heart of director Peter Sohn’s story is a reimagined love story that incorporates his memories of life of growing up on the streets of New York City. His heroine is the fiery daughter of a local corner store owner in Fire Town named Ember (Leah Lewis). She does all she can to help maintain the store for her father until one day, when the girl of fire causes an accident that floods the store’s basement. During this debacle, she is introduced to the building inspector, Wade (Mamoudou Athie). This connection forces the pair to work together to right the wrongs that the young firebrand caused in her family’s shop. As the two elements begine work alongside one another, an unlikely romance unfolds. This unlikely couple must come to terms with the realities of thier different lifestyles, especislly dealing with the fact that fire and water don’t mix.
Pixar Finds its Feet Again
As this beautiful story unfolded on the screen during our viewing, there seemed to be a unified sigh from the parents and Pixar fans in the audience that the studio looks to have found its feet again. From the opening with Carl’s Date short film to the refreshingly agenda-free storyline to the stunning animation, Elemental is one of the first films (not merely Pixar) of 2023 that has something to offer to every audience member. Granted, the younger set may not connect with the subtle nuances of the city-based romantic aspects. Still, both young and old Can’t help but be swept away by the family-based humour and kinetic energy of this adventurous animated world.
That does not mean there isn’t something for parents, as the screenwriters take from the Romeo and Juliet playbook minus the sword fights. Ember and Wade’s love story transcends time as they determine how to save their families while lighting the fire of their unexpected relationship. Along with gaining the approval of parents and children, Elemental also manages to cross the dividing line of appealing to both male and female audiences. There is a love story at the heart of the narrative, but the humour and action will provide something to engage all who choose to see this with their families. If there is anything that parents need to be aware of within the script, as with many Disney productions is the spiritual elements that underpin the story without being distracting.
Elemental is the one film from Pixar that Reel Dialogue and The Watchlist have been waiting for years to see. A family movie with something for everyone, surrounded by a beautifully well-told story. Congratulations to Peter Sohn and Pixar for remembering what has made this studio tremendous, and our team wants to encourage you to keep making more of these quality films.
Reel Dialogue: Our Response to the Immigrant
One of the layers of this screenplay is an endearing immigrant journey. Interestingly, the tale of people coming from a foreign land is at the heart of the Biblical narrative. Through these stories in history, readers can see God has compassion for the poor, afflicted, and oppressed. The foreigner’s journey has been around since the beginning of humanity’s existence. This begs society to consider how to respond to the needs of those who cross into new lands in the hope of a new life.
There have been many books, debates, and films on the subject. What did Jesus have to say about it? He claims that he did not come for the healthy but rather for the sick (Matthew 9:12). The apostle Paul affirms this teaching that the church is made up of the outcasts, “not many wise, not many powerful, not many of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
Like their God who loves them, the followers of Christ ought to have a special, irrepressible desire for the poor and the outcasts of this world.
Reel Dialogue’s updated Pixar ranking
- The Incredibles
- Finding Nemo
- Toy Story 3
- Inside Out
- Monsters, Inc.
- Toy Story
- Incredibles 2
- Finding Dory
- Toy Story 4
- Toy Story 2
- A Bug’s Life
- Monsters University
- Turning Red
- Cars 3
- Cars 2
- The Good Dinosaur
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.