The beauty of Pixar is that their animated features can bring us into virtually any reality, be it the toy box of a young child to the inside of a pre-teen’s brain (in INSIDE OUT). That creativity looks like it’s going to continue in this summer’s highly anticipated ELEMENTAL, which will make its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Ahead of that launch, Pixar brought the opening 20 minutes of the film to Las Vegas for the annual CinemaCon 2023 presentation, and we learned exactly how the movie will “heat” up the already sizzling summer movie season.
ELEMENTAL comes off like an immigrant’s story, with families from the four distinct elements (Air, Water, Fire, and Earth) arriving by boat to Element City, a New York style metropolis where we start to see two of our main characters – Bernie (Ronnie Del Carmen) and Cinder (Shila Ommi) – as they set up shop and start to build a family. This leads to the introduction of their “fiery” daughter Ember (Leah Lewis), whose chief goal is to one day take over the family’s store, The Fireplace.
The main family are made up of fire. And ELEMENTAL has a lot of fun playing with the ways that the elements affect each other. As you might imagine, the “water” people are somewhat hazardous to the “fire” people, and there are times when splashes of water can douse parts of Ember’s body. But don’t worry. As long as she quickly ingests sticks of firewood, she can restore her elements.
As we learned more about ELEMENTAL, we realized that the movie will expand emotionally (as all Pixar movies do) and be about finding that spark of connection between different elements – but more importantly, it will be about finding your place in the world. Early in the footage, we see the fire elements struggling to find a place to live. And even when they get their home and shop set up, Ember continues to figure out how to work, and how to interact with customers who happen to be other elements.
The story is about taking care of one’s self, and to “take a breath and make connection.” But as we witnessed in the footage, Ember loses her cool often, and explodes. Several years pass in the footage we witnessed, and Bernie clearly is slowing down. And who reading this hasn’t had a parent reach that age where we see time getting the upper hand. But is Ember ready to assume the family business? We will see as the story digs deeper into the family dynamic, and the love between Ember and her father.
The beauty of a Pixar film is that they figure out how to make us care about things we never thought possible. We cheer for a race car named Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson). We side with the monsters who hide under our beds, ready to generate scares. And in ELEMENTAL, based on the heartwarming and inspirational footage that we saw, we are going to connect with a fire family who will be entertaining our own families all summer long.
You can keep up with our coverage of CinemaCon here at AMC Scene, and follow us on Twitter! And make sure that you get your tickets to ELEMENTAL the moment that they go on sale.