‘Elemental’ review: A fiery immigration narrative and a rom-com collide in Pixar’s latest

Pixar’s latest movie, ‘Elemental’, takes audience members on a journey through the beautiful, immersive, and technically impressive world of Element City, inhabited by water-people, earth-people, fire-people, and air-people. Ember Lumen, voiced by Leah Lewis, is a hot-tempered woman working at her family’s shop that is faced with a threat to their livelihood. In an attempt to save her family’s business and her inheritance, she must join forces with the City Inspector, Wade Ripple, voiced by Mamoudou Athie, a water-people, to fix the leak that could shut down their business. At its core, ‘Elemental’ is about the immigrant experience, with Ember’s parents arriving in Element City’s Ellis Island and facing hostility from the water-, earth-, and air-people that have resided there for a while. Bernie and Cinder, Ember’s parents, encounter challenges as fire-people in a city built for water-people, making it difficult for them to assimilate into the melting pot like many other new residents.

The film’s many moving parts are at their best when exploring Ember’s personal story as a child of migrant parents. While she stands to inherit her family’s shop, her frequent outbursts of purple-flamed rage suggest her inheritance may be more of a burden than a blessing. Director Peter Sohn drew on his experiences as a child of immigrants while creating the film. The focus shifts to Ember and her blossoming romantic relationship with Wade, making ‘Elemental’ Pixar’s first fully fledged rom-com. Ember and Wade, being complete opposites, beautifully complement one another, with their vivid on-screen chemistry and technical achievements through their animation.

Although the movie’s plot may not live up to its impressive visuals, the immigration metaphors, the developing relationship between Ember and Wade, and the leak storyline combine effectively to make the film a delightful and charming journey for all.

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‘Elemental’ is set to premiere in theaters on June 16th, 2023.

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