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Is Elemental Worth Watching? a Comprehensive Review and Recommendation


June 22, 2023

Elemental, the latest offering from Pixar, has generated controversial critiques among the audience. Despite the heated discussions, a consensus has emerged that while Elemental may not reach the same level of satisfaction as Pixar's greatest works, it still delivers a solid narrative accompanied by visually dazzling flair. This article aims to provide a comprehensive review of Elemental by incorporating critical reviews, offering a holistic assessment of the movie's merits and shortcomings.

Movie Overview

"Elemental" is an all-new, original feature film by Disney and Pixar set in the vibrant city of Element City. This imaginative world is home to diverse residents representing the elements of fire, water, land, and air, who coexist harmoniously.

The story follows Ember, a tough and quick-witted young woman who embodies the fiery element. Ember's beliefs about the world she lives in are challenged when she forms an unlikely friendship with Wade, a sappy, go-with-the-flow guy who embodies the element of water. As Ember and Wade spend time together, their contrasting personalities and perspectives lead them on a transformative journey that challenges Ember's preconceived notions about their world.

Together, they delve into the challenges faced when cultures collide, emphasizing the importance of understanding, acceptance, and unity. Through its animated anthropomorphic characters representing the elemental forces, "Elemental" aims to deliver a thought-provoking narrative that inspires viewers to consider the dynamics of cultural integration and the potential for positive change in society.

Image From Rotten Tomatoes


The movie "Elemental" has several aspects that make it worth watching. The performances of Lewis, who voices Ember, and Athie, who voices Wade, bring a playful warmth and bubbling affability to their characters. The animation of their bodies, with Ember's flickering and ablaze with emotion and heat, and Wade's fluid and transparent nature, adds excitement to the visual experience. Overall, the animation emphasizes malleability and occasionally dabbles in abstraction.

Additionally, the film showcases promising use of color, form, and movement. Notable standout sequences, such as the underwater garden of Vivisteria flowers and the hand-drawn animation that tells a love story with minimal, swirling lines, provide unique moments that differentiate "Elemental" from other Pixar films. These moments add visual interest and creativity to the overall viewing experience.

Here are some top critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes in favor of the movie "Elemental":

"I was taken by the imaginative ways the animation explores societal inequities."

This review highlights the film's ability to creatively address social issues through its animation. It suggests that the movie goes beyond simple storytelling and delves into deeper themes related to societal inequities.

"The crafty cartoon wondrously animates disparate elements and shapes them into relatable characters."

This review highlights that the film successfully blends various elements and shapes them in a way that resonates with the audience, making the characters relatable and engaging.

"Elemental is a reverent, affecting tribute to the toils and sacrifices parents make for their children."

This review praises "Elemental" for its portrayal of the dedication and sacrifices parents make for their children. It suggests that the film pays homage to the selfless efforts of parents and explores the emotional depth of their relationships with their children.

Image From Rotten Tomatoes


Despite a tableau rich with marvelous imagery, "Elemental" falls short of recapturing the original magic associated with Disney and Pixar. The film's intriguing concept of a New York-style metropolis where earth, fire, water, and air coexist fails to translate into a compelling execution. The central metaphor of the film as a racial allegory feels unbalanced and unwieldy, resulting in an underdeveloped narrative that doesn't showcase the expected creative brilliance of the talented animators involved.

The pacing and writing further hinder the film's impact, with a predictable nature that gives the impression of a formulaic Pixar production rather than a unique and engaging storytelling experience. The movie occasionally ventures into the realm of nonsensical, missing opportunities to fully explore the vibrant potential of its colorful concept.

Drawing comparisons to Disney's "Zootopia," which also tackles complex issues of discrimination in densely populated urban settings, "Elemental" falls short in its attempts to deliver a nuanced exploration. The simplification of these themes raises concerns about the portrayal of contrasting elements and the potential dangers they pose, ultimately failing to provide the depth and profound exploration expected from such subjects.

Here are some top critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes that express a negative opinion of the movie "Elemental":

"It's a muddle, frankly, and the beauty of the animation can't wholly compensate, especially given the mostly witless dialogue and the fact that the traditional Pixar ease with plot construction seems to have evaporated."

This review expresses that, despite the remarkable animation, the movie fails to live up to Pixar's reputation for storytelling excellence. The critic's assessment highlights the film's missed opportunities and its inability to captivate audiences with a compelling plot and dialogue.

"The movie lacks a clear understanding of urban social orders, resulting in a flimsy social context within this made-up world."

The reviewer suggests that the film fails to establish a clear understanding of how social structures function in an urban setting, which undermines the depth and believability of the story's social dynamics.

"Kudos to Pixar for telling a smaller story with big aspirations... Elemental has a big, beautiful heart and a hyper-relevant message of tolerance and generational churn. It's too bad that the rest of it often feels so wishy-washy and lukewarm."

This review acknowledges Pixar's commendable effort but expresses disappointment that the rest of the film often lacks conviction and falls short in terms of impact.

Image From Rotten Tomatoes

Image From Rotten Tomatoes


Based on a variety of critical reviews, "Elemental" is worth considering for its imaginative animation, creative exploration of social issues, and its heartfelt message of generational change. While the film may have shortcomings in terms of storytelling, plot construction, and depth, it still has the potential to resonate with fans of Pixar films who appreciate visually stunning animation. If you're intrigued by the concept of a world filled with elemental wonders, I recommend giving "Elemental" a chance and immersing yourself in its unique story!

Image From Rotten Tomatoes

In conclusion, while "Elemental" falls short of attaining the same level of excellence as some of Pixar's most revered works, it still manages to deliver a commendable narrative accompanied by visually striking animation. The film's execution, however, lacks a complete understanding of the complexities of generational immigration issues, and its storytelling and plot construction could have been more finely tuned.

Despite these shortcomings, "Elemental" deserves recognition for its imaginative animation, which brings to life a vibrant world of elemental forces and visually captivating characters. The creative exploration of social issues within this fantastical realm offers thought-provoking moments that invite viewers to contemplate themes of cultural integration, understanding, and acceptance. Additionally, the film's heartfelt message of generational change adds emotional depth and relevance to the overall experience.

Ultimately, I would recommend giving "Elemental" a chance as its portrayal of characters navigating the challenges of cultural clashes and personal transformation resonates with the audience, even if it does not delve as deeply as one might hope.

Christina Zhang
5,000+ pageviews

Christina is a teenage writer from China currently living and studying in Massachusetts, United States. She has a deep passion for international relations, public policy, and debating. She finds particular delight in musicals, with “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and “Six!” being among her favorites!