Elemental isn’t the sort of film I’d normally go and see, but I’ll get to why I ended up in the cinema with this being onscreen…
But first, a short: Carl’s Date, the chap from Up! with the talking dog. I’ve never seen the film before – apart from occasional clips – but it ended before it really seemed to begin.
However, the title refers to the elements of Earth – Fire, water, land, air – and the question of whether they can co-exist?
On the fire side is Ember (Leah Lewis – The Half Of It), a young woman working in Dad’s shop, who’ll take over when he retires, and as they’re a Chinese family, this film is an immigrant tale. Jeez, don’t tell Rishi Sunak, or he’ll weakly chant “Stop the boats” and try to deport them(!)
He’d do well to learn that both the parents of him, and his crooked Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, were also immigrants, so he could’ve deported himself before he was born!
Ember doesn’t really want to follow in Dad’s footsteps, but feels she hasn’t got much of an option, which leads to her temper frequently getting the better of her, and briefly, but accidentally, turning her into an arsonist.
Then enter Wade Ripple… yes, he’s water. Played by Mamoudou Athie (Jurassic World: Dominion), he’s a city inspector, who – due to circumstances – finds himself in her shop’s basement, and uses his spare time to report her for the pipes in the building not being up to code. Such a Jobsworth…
The attraction soon grows, however, despite the fact that elements can’t mix, since water extinguishes fire, and so on – which makes for a very clunky and poor way of getting across whether or not different races can interact and have a mixed race relationship.
However, if you thought the names were lazy, this also expands to the onscreen jokes, e.g. the cinema simply showing “Tide and Prejudice“; and Fire people are immigrants from Fireland… Wow, what an original name for it!
Yes, there was no expense spent on the script.
Similarly, because of her fire background, she’s a woman of the world who takes offence at being called “hot“, and thus suffers a severe case of RBF.
Elemental runs 109 minutes including the 7-minute short film, and is a a lazy, plotless mess which goes on forever.
Oh, and there was also The Crying Game… no, not the 1992 movie, but a party game. Phew! I thought things were going to take a weird turn, there…
As an aside, I’d also read how Elemental is instrumental in stopping kids from just being kids, by forcing upon them a “non-binary” character. Apparently, there is one, they’re called Lake, and they’re voiced by the actor Ava Kai Hauser, who also states they’re neither male nor female. It’s fine for adults to declare whatever they want, but stop trying to confuse children when they still haven’t formed any viable opinions about the world. After all, when I was the age for which this film was aimed at, I would happily have identified as Buck Rogers! Yes, feel free to laugh!
But, there was one plus side… apart from the fact that I can’t see the character listed on IMDB, there was zero reference in the film to such a character, so I wonder if someone saw sense and cut ‘Lake’ out at the last minute?
Now, about how I came to be watching this in the cinema, it was a Cineworld Secret Screening, the idea being that no-one – not even the staff – know what the film will be until the BBFC title card comes up.
But apart from the fact I didn’t like the film because I found it extremely dull, and doing nothing any other film hasn’t done before, I also found it an odd choice of film for a Secret Screening (my first), because in a room full of adults, why did they put a kids film on?
Prior to the night, their website estimated a 12A, I think, so no-one expects a kids film, hence no parents bring their kids. Even if they sit through it, they’ve still got to come back again with them and watch it again.
As a result, we had a lot of people walking out (most within the first 20 mins, inc. the short). A large number had drinks etc (I bring water, as I prefer that, and I don’t need a ton of postmix Coke when I’m trying NOT to drink a lot of fluids, because fluid = toilet = missing the film). Total Total number of people walking out (inc. a few even 90 mins in)? Around 40! This was in the biggest non-premium screen in Didsbury.
Elemental is in cinemas from July 7th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Running time: 109 minutes (including 7-minute short feature)
Release date: July 7th 2023
Cinema: Cineworld Didsbury
Director: Peter Sohn
Producer: Denise Ream
Screenplay: John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, Brenda Hsueh
Music: Thomas Newman
Ember: Leah Lewis
Wade Ripple: Mamoudou Athie
Bernie: Ronnie Del Carmen
Cinder: Shila Ommi
Gale: Wendi McLendon-Covey
Brook: Catherine O’Hara
Clod: Mason Wertheimer
Harold: Ronobir Lahiri
Flarrietta: Wilma Bonet
Fern: Joe Pera
Alan / Lutz / Earth Pruner: Matt Yang King
Little Kid Ember: Clara Lin Ding
Big Kid Ember: Reagan To
Sparkler Customer: Jeff LaPensee
Wood Immigration Official: Ben Morris
Flarry: Jonathan Adams
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.