Elemental Review: A Heart-warming Love Story That Suffers From Deficient World-building

Sharanya Kumar

In Element City

Anthropomorphised embodiments of the four elements live in apparent harmony. The animated metropolitan setting of Disney-Pixar’s Elemental (2023) is modelled after New York City, a melting pot of diverse cultures and ethnicities.

Shaky World-building

The world of Elemental is charming but not as compelling as it sounds in theory, especially given that it comes from the studios that brought us stirring films like Toy Story (1995), Finding Nemo (2003), Up (2009), Inside Out (2015) and Coco (2017).

Insiders vs. Outsiders

Like Elemental, Disney’s 2016 film Zootopia functioned as an allegory for systemic racism in America, with the city of Zootopia being divided into Preys and Predators, the latter being a minority group who were regarded as violent and savage creatures.

Stunning Animation and All-Heart Storytelling

The film drags in parts (a bit about Wade pretending to be a food inspector is a tad longer than it needs to be), its messaging a little too on the nose (“Why does anyone get to tell you what you do in your life?” Wade asks Ember). But despite its flaws, Elemental is all heart.

The Animation

Which was reportedly time-consuming and expensive, looks hyper-realistic at times, such as when the channel water spills over the edges and gushes forth, flooding the city’s canals. In Elemental, light and colour bounce off and shine through reflective surfaces.

Rare Post-Pandemic Disney-Pixar Film

Elemental was a rare post-pandemic Disney-Pixar film that saw a theatrical release, as opposed to directly hitting the Disney+ streaming platform. After an underwhelming opening at the box-office, the film emerged as a sleeper hit.