ELEMENTAL Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Riding the wave of meticulously woven narratives and visually stunning animations, Disney's 'Elemental' (2023) breathes a fresh gust of innovation into the realms of animated films. Drawing inspiration from Disney classics like 'Moana' and Pixar's beloved 'Inside Out', the film stirs together elements of self-discovery, emotional resonance, and grand adventure into a compelling cinematic broth.

'Elemental' spins an extraordinary tale of four children gifted with the elemental powers of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Raised in a secluded society that values uniformity over uniqueness, these youngsters struggle to fit in and suppress their extraordinary abilities. The film’s narrative takes a thrilling turn when the balance of nature is disrupted, requiring our young heroes to embark on a journey beyond their cloistered community. The film’s premise gently nods to the magic-infused narratives of films like 'Frozen' and 'Brave', exploring themes of embracing individuality and challenging the status quo.

These elements – familiar yet reinvigorated – are the cornerstone of the film's storyline. The children's journey to restore balance mirrors the path to self-acceptance, a theme dear to both Disney and Pixar's hearts. ‘Elemental’ handles this trope with deftness, tracing the journey with ample doses of humor, heartbreak, and an unyielding spirit of adventure.

'Elemental' skillfully brings together a talented ensemble cast, breathing life into its four elemental youngsters and their supporting cast.

Leah Lewis, known for her breakout role in 'The Half of It', lends her voice to the character of Terra, the earth controller. Her performance adds layers of strength and subtlety to Terra, illustrating her quiet fortitude and growth throughout the film.

Playing opposite Lewis is Mamoudou Athie, known for 'Uncorked' and 'Underwater', who voices Aiden, the air manipulator. Athie effortlessly encapsulates Aiden's free-spirited and somewhat aloof nature, adding depth to the playful banter and unexpected wisdom that define his character.

In the role of Ember, the fiery and determined fire controller, is Ronnie del Carmen, who, despite being better known for his directorial work in 'Inside Out', proves his versatility by delivering a spirited performance. His portrayal of Ember's fiery passion and underlying warmth effectively echoes the character's elemental attribute.

Shila Ommi, a rising talent, voices Marina, the water manipulator. Ommi brings a calming influence to the group through Marina, her character's tranquil yet powerful personality reflecting the characteristics of her element.

Wendi McLendon-Covey, best known for 'The Goldbergs', offers her comedic chops to the film as the character of Nova, a guiding mentor to the elemental children. Her character's dynamic wit and wisdom play a vital role in the narrative, and McLendon-Covey's vibrant delivery amplifies these attributes.

Completing the main cast is Catherine O'Hara, the Canadian actress famous for 'Schitt's Creek' and 'Beetlejuice', who voices the antagonist, Eris. O'Hara's performance lends Eris a palpable air of menace and grandiosity, while subtly highlighting the character's underlying vulnerabilities.

Together, this star-studded cast of talented voice actors creates a diverse set of characters, each with their unique personalities that align with their elemental abilities, contributing to the allure and depth of 'Elemental'.

'Elemental' was born out of a desire to marry the storytelling traditions of Disney and Pixar with an unexplored narrative terrain. Its creators were inspired by the universality of elements and how they connect to human emotions. The use of elemental powers as a metaphor for emotional strength is a testament to Disney's and Pixar's shared legacy of transforming abstract concepts into tangible story elements.

Once again, Pixar have continued to push the boundaries of animated storytelling, reminiscent of the leap set by 'Toy Story' made back in 1995. Just as 'Toy Story' revolutionized the animation industry by introducing the world's first feature-length computer-animated film, 'Elemental' is also breaking ground with its innovative blend of animation styles and narrative techniques.

Its exploration of adolescent emotions and the process of self-discovery, harks back to the Pixar classic 'Inside Out'. The film's emphasis on emotional intelligence and self-acceptance highlights the continued effort by Disney and Pixar to tackle complex themes in an accessible and engaging manner.

In the vein of 'Moana', 'Elemental' also grapples with the theme of environmental responsibility. Each child's journey to control their powers underscores the broader message about humanity's role in preserving the delicate balance of nature. In a world increasingly concerned with environmental conservation, this narrative thread feels particularly poignant.

'Elemental' has proven to be a successful step forward in Disney's venture to continue creating captivating narratives that mirror the evolving societal fabric. The film stands as a testament to Disney's commitment to not just entertain, but also to inspire and educate their audience about the world and their place within it.

Despite the film's inevitable ties to its Disney and Pixar predecessors, 'Elemental' carves out a space for itself in the realm of animated films. It is a story of courage and self-discovery, shrouded in enchanting visual storytelling that captivates audiences from the opening scene to the closing credits. In short, 'Elemental' is an enthralling addition to the Disney and Pixar family that proves once again that the power of animated storytelling is as vast and boundless as the elements themselves.

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