A timely but underwhelming Pixar work – The Hollywood Reporter

Everyone has their favorite Pixar movie – mine is coconutwith Wall E And vegetable soup seconds are close — and no matter which title you prefer in the game-changing animation studio’s catalog, most of them feel unique. (The car And Toy Story sequels aside, although even some of them are new and original).

But in the last few years, Pixar, which was acquired by Disney for more than $7 billion in 2006, has been unable to deliver the same merchandise as it once did. soul ambitious but plays too much like a fun riff on Contradictory. Luca fun in the Italian sun but also too pale. Light year is an unnecessary spin-off to a great series that should have ended as a trilogy.


Key point

Too elementary school.

Location: Cannes Film Festival (Closing Night)
Release date: Friday, June 16
Cast: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie Del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covery, Catherine O’Hara
Manager: Peter Sohn
Writer: John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, Brenda Hsueh

1 hour 42 minutes

Which brings us to element. Studio 27lame pants features, well, have all the elements that make a great Pixar movie: A high-pitched pitch that can only be accomplished through brilliant modern computer animation; a serious overarching theme of ethnic conflict and racial tolerance; humorous for both children and adults, although this series is more aimed at the age group of 10 and under; a plot that hits all the right beats at the right time.

It’s all there – so much element possibly the first Pixar work to feel like it was created entirely with AI. Not only does the AI ​​compute all the images, but literally an algorithm that put together a perfect Pixar movie. The problem, of course, is that originality is largely absent here, as is the risk-taking theme that has fueled films like Wall E (the planet is almost dead!) or Contradictory (Bing Bong is dead!) or coconut (DEADMAN!).

IN element, Pixar’s usual ambitious leap into the unknown is like a safe dip in calm waters — water is one of the four elements that drive the story, though only two are real. important here — and much of it seems familiar. This isn’t to say it won’t at least be a modest hit over the summer when Disney releases in mid-June, following its Cannes premiere on the closing night of the film festival. But the amazing element is lost at this point, and what we’re left with is like another Pixar movie.

It took about a minute or two to realize that the movie was directed by Peter Sohn (Kind dinosaur — a mid-level Pixar) and written by John Hoberg, Kat Likkel and Brenda Hsueh, is a huge, very expensive (200 million dollars, to be exact) metaphor for immigration and exclusion. Sohn said the story was inspired by his own family’s experiences when Koreans came to New York, a place that has been transformed here into an eye-catching megacity called Element City — basically. The original is the Big Apple with things like Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water, with the latter dominating the others.

Arriving by boat in the city’s equivalent of Ellis Island, an immigrant couple, Bernie Lumen (Ronnie Del Carmen) and his wife, Cinder (Shila Omni), have arrived from their hometown of Fireland to bring about a new life. new life for their family. young daughter, Ember (Leah Lewis). Without much money or connections, and as members of the Fire minority, they end up in a working-class neighborhood in Fire Town, where Bernie opens a grocery store called Catering Fireplaces. for other Fire people like you.

If you’re sick of all these winking names and pretty easy jokes, there’s much more to come in a movie that tries to find humor in the parallel urban universe of mobs. walking fires, blobs of H2O, floating clouds and what basically looks like an old tree stump. (Earth certainly has a short time here, with most of its characters looking dull as dirt. Or is it just another pun?)

A quick opening sequence — a must in most Pixar films since Upward — shows Ember growing up with loving parents in a community far from the city’s Water-controlled energy hubs. Her father wanted her to take over the family business, but when she was in her 20s, Ember’s explosive tantrums suggested she might want something else in life. When a city inspector, goofy and snappy Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie), unexpectedly walks through the store’s plumbing, it’s not really love at first glance, especially after he writes it down. quotes may cause the Fireplace to close.

But as Paula Abdul famously predicted, opposites will attract each other, and so Ember and Wade begin to love each other, even if they cannot have any physical contact because, you understand. Pixar’s story algorithm takes place at the time, with the two facing all kinds of obstacles as they fall in love despite their inherent differences, prompting Ember to hide his relationship with his father. proud, who wants her to stay in Fire Town.

Water has always been a complex substance for animators, and what Sohn and his team do with it, especially when Ember starts visiting downtown Elemental City with Wade, may very impressive. The diverse palette of billions of shades of blue, turquoise, and green makes this partially color-blind critic feel almost assaulted, and the whole scene looks like Shanghai’s Pudong district is sinking. in a giant fish tank. Another innovation involves characters whose faces and bodies are filled with constant internal movement, whether filled with flames or stirred with liquid.

That, and a few charmingly humorous scenes — especially the visit Ember and Wade make to their overbearing later mother (Catherine O’Hara) — don’t make up for the series’ major flaw, however. movie, it’s a completely predictable feeling. Maybe we’ve all seen too many Pixar movies, and so if Element being the studio’s first release instead of the eleventh, it seems more surprising, bolder.

That said, the immigrant fable that Sohn and his team of animators have crafted feels both worthy and timely, especially at a time when America seems to be falling into disrepair. xenophobia unseen since the 1920s. By far the most moving element in Element is the character of Bernie, a hard-working expat doing everything he can to support his family in the big city, living in his humble little supermarket while trying to preserve some of his hometown traditions. smell.

His story proves to be much more involved than the romance between Ember and Wade unfolds exactly as you might think, emphasizing the many difficulties, whether personal or social, that people of all races Different are trying to stick together face. If Pixar had perhaps taken more risks with that plot, they might have satisfied a smaller demographic than such a project requires to be profitable, but they might as well have delivers a movie that’s on par with some of their best work. Instead, all the elements fit perfectly into place — to the point where the water eventually puts out the fire, and we’re not impressed.


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