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Peter Sohn
Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen
Writing Credits:
John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, Brenda Hsueh

Fire-based Ember and water-based Wade fall in love despite their differences.

Box Office:
$200 Million.
Opening Weekend
$29,602,429 on 4035 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English DTS-HD HR 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
English Descriptive Audio 2.0
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 9/26/2023

• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Sohn, Visual Effects Supervisor Sanjay Bakshi, Supervising Animator Mike Venturini, and Directing Animator Gwendelyn Enderoglu
• “Ember and Wade” Featurette
• “Next Stop” Featurette
• 3 Deleted Scenes
Carl’s Date Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Elemental [Blu-Ray] (2023)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 24, 2023)

Can a movie exist as both a hit and a flop at the same time? If so, 2023’s Elemental represents that dual status.

On one hand, the film started relatively slowly at the box office, as it opened with a low-by-Pixar-standards $29 million in the US. The movie looked likely to quickly fade and become a bomb.

After all, 2022’s opened at $50 million but sputtered to a mere $226 million overall. Given that much weaker initial weekend, this didn’t bode well for Elemental.

However, Elemental became the Little Movie That Could and continued to do decent business over subsequent weeks. This allowed it to finish with a US gross of $154 million and a worldwide overall take of $496 million.

Given the movie’s $200 million budget, it turned a minor profit, if it did so at all. Nonetheless, given how dire the movie’s potential sales looked right off the bat, it did pretty well in the end.

Element City represents a location where characters made of Water, Wind, Earth and Fire co-exist, albeit warily at times. This becomes especially true for Fire, as those folks immigrated last and remain lowest on the town’s social totem pole.

Bernie (voiced by Ronnie del Carmen) and Cinder (Shila Ommi) come to Element City from Fire Land, where they settle while Cinder is pregnant. The Lumen family eventually makes three with baby Ember.

When Ember (Leah Lewis) reaches adulthood, Bernie wants her to eventually take over their convenience store. However, she seems eager to go another way.

Ember’s life changes when water-based city inspector Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie), as he cites various violations at the Lumen’s shop. Though literal opposites, Ember and Wade gradually connect with each other, a romance with social ramifactions.

Someday I will tell kids that I remember when Pixar acted as the gold standard of animation. If Pixar made it, you knew it'd be good.

Alas, those days are gone. Elemental represents another indication that Pixar's gone downhill.

The story offers a riff on 2016’s Zootopia, as it posits a place in which various seemingly incompatible groups attempt to live in peace. This worked in Zootopia because the movie offered a rationale and some clarity.

In Elemental, though, there seems to be no guiding principle behind the conglomeration, perhaps because the movie acts as all metaphor, no logic. In the real world, issues that relate to how various ethnicities interact largely revolve around bigotry, but here, there are pretty obvious practical issues involved.

As the main "love story" plot indicates, fire and water don't mix. Fire and wood don't mix. There's pretty good reason that characters made of fire should stay away from the others.

But the movie just wants to boil it down to basic bigotry in too many ways, especially as it treats the fire characters as the unwanted newbies in Element City. The movie seems to view their lower rung on the social/economic ladder as all about prejudice and not due to the basic incompatibility.

Which the movie then attempts to tell us doesn't exist and that fire and water can interact. Why does this happen? True love, I guess, as the film provides no logical reason that all of a sudden characters made of fire and water can mingle without harm to either.

These main plot points seem either trite or underexplored. Ember's desire for a life beyond what her dad prefers echoes umpteen skillion films - and seems awfully close to the basic conceit of Little Mermaid.

Not that Ember offers an Ariel clone - not at all. Nonetheless, the basic notions that motivate both seem similar.

Wade's overly emotional nature appears to exist solely to allow convenient solutions to some problems. This becomes especially true at the end.

Are all water people big criers, or is it just Wade and family? No idea, for the movie leaves that as one of many barely touched-upon topics.

Speaking of which, the movie implies foul play when it comes to the presence of water in Firetown. We get a hint that this is intentional and prompted by nefarious motives.

But then the movie leaves this topic vague and underaddressed. We get the issues with water as a large aspect of the plot but then the film drops the ball and never relates the details of why this happened.

Honestly, Elemental feels like a movie where all involved cared way more about production values - which are great - and cramming in as many small background gags/references as humanly possible. I'm betting this flick will be a freeze-frame dream, as you'll likely find dozens of clever puns and references packed into its frames.

Too bad the filmmakers seemed way more concerned with those aspects of the film than they were with interesting characters and a compelling plot. Elemental offers a dull, uninvolving and predictable journey.

It feels like someone trying to make a Pixar movie and not an actual Pixar movie. It never clicks and becomes a dull and tedious experience.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

Elemental appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a terrific presentation.

At all times, sharpness looked crisp and detailed. If any softness materialized, I didn’t see it, as I thought the image remained tight and well-defined at all times.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and the movie lacked edge haloes or artifacts. Of course, no print flaws popped up along the way.

In terms of colors, Elemental went with a broad palette. All those toys allowed for a wide variety of hues, and the image brought them out in a vivid and dynamic manner.

Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows seemed smooth and clear. This turned into a stellar image.

Though not as impressive, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack also pleased. The film came with plenty that brought the mix to life with frequency.

Not much real “action” occurred, but the track worked hard to form a vivid environment. These blended together well and created a nice package of sound components from all around the room.

Audio quality was solid. Music sounded dynamic and full, while speech was distinctive and natural, so no signs of edginess occurred.

Effects appeared accurate and showed nice range, with solid low-end when appropriate. I felt highly pleased with this excellent track.

A few extras appear, and we get an audio commentary from director Peter Sohn, visual effects supervisor Sanjay Bakshi, supervising animator Mike Venturini, and directing animator Gwendelyn Enderoglu. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at inspirations and origins, story, characters and themes, cast and performances, music and audio, design and animation.

Like many Pixar commentaries, this one can turn a bit self-congratulatory. However, also like many Pixar chats, it comes with a nice array of insights.

In particular, I like the balance involved. Tracks from other animation studios largely fixate on technical domains, but Pixar discussions spend a lot of time on story and characters as well.

That happens here. As a result, we find a pretty good mix of topics in this engaging piece.

An animated short that preceded theatrical screenings of Elemental, Carl’s Date runs seven minutes, 49 seconds. It features the lead from 2009’s Up as he embarks on a new social experience.

Given that voice actor Ed Asner passed away not long after he recorded his performance, Date acts as a nice sendoff. However, the short itself feels a bit lackluster and doesn’t bring back the charm of Up.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, 43 seconds. We find “Mom Rejects Wade” (2:49), “Dante Challenge” (3:50) and “Brook Dinner” (4:03).

“Rejects” shows the initial way Ember’s relationship to Wade comes out, and “Challenge” lets us meet a potential suitor cut from the entire flick. “Dinner” also makes Wade’s mom into a villain, whereas she seems nice in the finished flick.

None of these really would work in the movie as it wound up on the screen. However, they offer some intriguing alternate options.

Each one includes intros from story supervisor Jason Katz, story artist Yu Nira Liu and story artist Anna Benedict, respectively. They offer some useful thoughts about the sequences and why they didn’t make the final film.

Two featurettes follow, and Ember and Wade lasts 10 minutes, 14 seconds. It provides notes from Sohn, Bakshi, Enderoglu, character shading principal artist Jacob Kuenzel, character & look development art director Maria Yi, characters effects leads Patrick Witting and Max Gilbert, character articulation lead Jonas Jarvers, character modeling lead Dave Strick, character designer Jeremy Talbot, character shading principal artist Jonathan Hoffman, effects supervisor Stephen Marshall, character shading and groom lead George Nguyen, and actors Mamadou Athie and Leah Lewis.

Here we get info about the project’s origins, design of the lead characters, and technical challenges. We get a tight overview of these domains.

Next Stop: Element City occupies 10 minutes, 13 seconds. It involves Sohn, Bakshi, sets art director Daniel Holland, production designer Don Shank, sets supervisor Jun Han Cho, set dressing artist Ben VonZastrow, lighting supervisors Amy Jones and Luke Martorelli, sets modeling artist Krista Goll, sets modeling lead Raymond V. Wong, sets manager Alyssa Mar, and sets shading artist Chris Bernadi.

“Stop” covers the design and execution of Element City. We find another useful discussion.

I hoped Elemental would break the string of lackluster Pixar movies, but that failed to become the case. Muddled and ineffective, the film feels like Pixar parody more than the real thing. The Blu-ray boasts top-notch picture and audio along with a decent array of bonus materials. Expect a disappointing film here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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