I have been a fan of Pixar movies ever since their first feature movie Toy Story way back in 1995. Each Pixar movie that followed Toy Story was unique and original and I had many favourites. It was as if Pixar can do no wrong. Not until recent years where the new Pixar movies began to exhibit a deterioration in overall satisfaction level. Last year’s Turning Red was fun but it just did not elicit the same level of creativity and emoptional charm that previous Pixar movies had. This was followed-up by what was my least favourite Pixar movie Lightyear. Like many of the recent Disney movies, Lightyear clearly had an alternative agenda to promote the work culture which felt forced and distracting, and ultimately compromising on film’s quality.
Sadly, this downward trend seems to be continued with the latest Pixar movie Elemental which attempts to venture into the romantic comedy genre taking place in a world that is inhabited by beings which fall into either one of 4 categories representing the elements of nature (fire, water, wind and earth). In the story fire element Amber falls in love with water element Wade in a sort of Romeo and Juliet scenario as our love birds struggle to make fire and water mix. The premise of the story and the imaginary world created is the best thing about Elemental. The level of creativity and details cramped into every inch of the screen is nothing short of remarkable. The first scenes which introduces us to the characters and their world were so filled with wonderful and funny ideas that I was prematurely won over by the movie.
However, as the plot took centre stage over the design, the film began to feel mundane and familiar. The main characters of Amber (voiced by Leah Lewis) and Wade (voiced by Mamoudou Athie) are beautifully crafted but their romance lacked chemistry. Like all Pixar and Disney movies, there is always a dose of humour thrown in the mix but there wasn’t any supporting characters or side-kicks that would typically be clowning around and providing the big laughs (eg the monkey in Aladdin, Mr Potato head in Toy Story, Dory in Finding Nemo etc). There were no high points in the film as the whole thing just felt at the same “nice” level throughout the film. The songs came across as forgettable and did little to elevate the scenes with the exception of the song Steal the Show by Lauv.
Pixar in way is its own worst enemy having set the bar for its films so high. One cannot help but feel nostalgic for the glory days of the Pixar classics only to be disappointed by the new entries. I am still hopeful that the magic is not gone despite some hiccups along the way. Some of the newer Pixar films released before 2022 for instance, were wonderful particularly Coco, Luca and Soul. So, I firmly believe that the best is yet to come. Elemental is just not it.