Elemental occurs in Element City, where its residents represent Earth’s real-life elements: fire, water, land, and wind. The film follows Ember Lumen (Leah Lewis), a daughter of immigrant parents who set up a shop selling fiery things in Fire Town. Unfortunately, Ember’s temper problem leads her to burst some water pipes in the store’s basement, releasing the watery Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie) into her life. Can the two of them overcome their vast differences and their forbidden but authentic love? Reading that, you know where this is all heading.
Pixar doesn’t necessarily try to reinvent the romantic comedy wheel with Elemental. At the same time, the film feels like a familiar variation between Inside Out and Zootopia. Yet, the story attempts to go for some bold swings by incorporating more socially relevant themes about immigration, classism, and racism. Yet, Elemental‘s aim for topical messaging doesn’t quite stick the landing as other Pixar efforts. Somehow, seeing gags and situational comedy seamlessly mesh well with the messaging it’s trying to convey. Also, this civics lesson of a story isn’t all that engaging. It’s like The Phantom Menace for Star Wars fans but for Pixar.
Nevertheless, Elemental is a stunningly beautiful movie throughout. Pixar’s Elemental ranks among the top contenders in a year of breathtaking animated films. Elemental is at its best when it diverts away from the storyline and focuses more on the world-building in the diverse Element City. Every nook and cranny of Element City looks as if it was designed with a love for detail.
Overall, it’s unfortunate that the movie doesn’t match the level of Elemental‘s stunning animation. Elemental deserved a better, more nuanced story. The film’s need to shoehorn all its socially relevant themes into an uneven romance ultimately brings it down to mediocre status. Hopefully, if we return to Element City, we get a better storyline because this world deserves better.
Movie Review: /5 atoms
Elemental hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a native 4K, HEVC / H.265, HDR10 presentation with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The brightness and black levels are superb—the bright whites and deep shadows are presented without flaws. At the same time, the expanded color gamut pops off the screen as the HDR draws out the broad chromatic palette. The “elements” each have a particular look to them. Thus, it puts Elemental on the list of one of the most visually beautiful movies of the year. In terms of resolution, there is a noticeably finer texture, especially in their appearances and distinct environments.
Video Review: 5/5 atoms
Elemental hits Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos or a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio presentation if Atmos is not supported. This review will cover the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos mix. Although there is an emphasis on the front channels, the activity is constant on the soundstage as you move through the city. The lifelike sound effects enhance the elemental characteristics and the various action scenes. Unfortunately, the overhead channels are limited to atmospherics, musical ambiance, and discrete effects. Fortunately, its usage is effective as it immerses you in the onscreen events nicely. The Atmos mix also sounds great when it comes to the music, and the heartfelt score from Thomas Newman fills the room in an enveloping manner. Dialogue is the focus and is audible throughout.
Audio Review: /5 atoms
Elemental doesn’t have any bonus features on the Ultra HD disc. However, the following bonus features can be found on the HD Blu-ray disc:
- Audio Commentary
- Carl’s Date
- Ember and Wade
- Next Stop: Element City
- Deleted Scenes
- Intro Ember
- Mom Rejects Wade
- Dante Challenge
- Brook Dinner
- Beach Proposal
The special features for Elemental is a mixed bag. It’s not as extensive as other Pixar releases, but this assortment is good. It’s disappointing that it won’t knock your socks off. The commentary with director Peter Sohn, supe tech Sanjay Bakshi, supervising animator Mike Venturini, and directing animator Gwendelyn Enderoglu is a great listen. Carl’s Date is another beautiful short featuring the late Ed Asner, who finished recording it just before he died. On the other hand, the rest of the bonus features are your typical routine filler that’s interesting but not splashy or comprehensive.
The Little Mermaid also comes with a Best Buy exclusive shiny sheen steelbook featuring artwork wrapped with the above artwork.
Special Features Review: 3/5 atoms
Overall, Elemental is a mid-tier Pixar film that’s stunningly gorgeous but severely lacking in the story department. Thankfully, this Ultra HD release’s video and audio presentation is on the same level as the animation. Unfortunately, the special features are lacking, but it has some gems in there.
Overall Review: 4/5 atoms
Elemental hits stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on September 26th.
This Blu-ray was provided by Walt Disney Home Entertainment for review purposes.