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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 14, 2023


THE FOUR ELEMENTS are water, fire, earth and air.

The new Disney-Pixar animated film, “Elemental”, is about the Romeo and Juliet love story of a fire girl, Ember, and a water boy, Wade. It’s a forbidden love affair as they come from two totally different elements.

Ember (Leah Lewis, who’s so good in “The Half of It”) is the daughter of Bernie and Cinder Lumen (Ronnie del Carmen and Shila Ommi), immigrants to Element City who are rejected and discriminated against by the other elements.

They put up a sari-sari store called the Fireplace with their customers who are also fire people. 

Bernie wants Ember to inherit and run the store when he retires, but the hot-headed Ember has a fiery temper that makes her flare up very easily. 

Once, when her dad lets her tend to their store, she loses her temper to a makulit customer and goes to their basement to cool off. 

her raging outburst has caused a water pipe to leak and sucked into their basement accidentally is Wade Ripple (Mamoudie Athie), a water element who’s also a city inspector. 

Wade says their plumbing in the store has many discrepancies that do not satisfy city hall requirements. He then adds that he would report it and their store would later be penalized and shut down.

Ember pursues Wade to the city, to which she has never been before, and he introduces her to his boss, Gale Cumulus (Wendi Covey), who says she will forgive Ember’s store and reconsider not shutting it down if they could find the source of the leaks that flood the city.   

Ember and Wave then investigate the city’s canals to pinpoint where the leak is coming from.

They see a hole in a dam’s dike where the waves created by passing ships pass through and overflow, causing the floods. Together, they get sandbags to cover the hole and repair the leak. 

As they move around the city, it’s only to be expected that they also get to know each other better and romance eventually blooms between them. 

Wade even takes Ember to meet his family then he proposes to her, but Ember rejects him.

How will their love affair prosper considering that they have opposing qualities? Ember is fire and Wade as water can extinguish her.

Wade in turn can turn into vapor with Ember’s heat.

“Elemental” is directed by Peter Sohn, a Korean immigrant who says the situations portrayed in the movie are a reflection of his own experiences as an alien in New York and its distinct ethnic and cultural diversity . 

He previously directed “The Good Dinosaur”. 

In “Elemental”, it’s obvious that he took extra care in portraying the finer details of the appearance and visual effects of each character, most notably Ember and Wade. 

The contrast between the bright and fiery Ember and the very fluid Wade, who cries easily, makes for a colorful visual dynamic on screen.

But still, ‘Elemental’ does not reach the highs of Pixar’s best films like “Up” and the “Toy Story” series that really touch the heart. 

The movie has a valid message, though, as a tale about immigrants with themes like prejudice, class difference, and the need for integration and acceptance. 

And it’s all told with humor, like Wade getting sucked into a sponge when he was a baby and when folks thought he died due to evaporation, he slowly returns, one dripping drop at a time.

The inclusion of family values gives it  emotional depth, with Ember trying so hard to please her dad. 

In undermining what she really wants to do in her life , the film shows us the importance of self acceptance first, before you go and try to please others.