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Pixar’s Elemental feels like a return to the studio’s glory days

Published Feb 26th, 2023 5:15PM EST
Pixar movie Elemental
Image: Pixar

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As a longtime Pixar admirer, I found myself primed for the studio’s next theatrical release — Elemental, which is in fact Pixar’s only theatrical release lined up for 2023 so far — from the opening seconds of the teaser trailer, when the light of the familiar Luxo lamp seamlessly transitions to that of a boat train, roaring across the water.

Fingers crossed, based on what I’ve seen thus far about Elemental, I’m actually prepared to go as far as to suggest that it feels like the old Pixar magic might be coming back with this one — and that it might even be strong enough to attain summer blockbuster status. “Please let this be as good as I want it to be,” one YouTube commenter begged in response to Elemental’s teaser trailer from a few months ago.

Elemental, coming from Pixar this summer

I certainly know the feeling. Between an abundance of sequels, films that kind of came and went, and releases that were rushed onto Disney’s streaming service Disney Plus, those of us who’ve always been enamored with the theatrical experience from Pixar’s heyday still look back fondly on gems like Wall-E, Up and even more recent standouts like Coco.

Pixar’s highs have always been so high that new releases like Elemental have an increasingly tough job measuring up to them.

As for Elemental, meanwhile, here’s how Disney describes this new Pixar release, which is directed by Peter Sohn and hits theaters on June 16:

“Disney and Pixar’s Elemental is an all-new, original feature film set in Element City, where fire-, water-, land- and air residents live together. The story introduces Ember, a tough, quick-witted and fiery young woman, whose friendship with a fun, sappy, go-with-the-flow guy named Wade challenges her beliefs about the world they live in.”

“Ember” and “Wade” are voiced by Leah Lewis and Mamoudou Athie. A couple of additional key points related to the movie: This will be Pixar’s 27th feature film, and given that there’s a love story at its core — between the elements of fire and water, which exist in a world where the “people” are singular elements — this is also Pixar’s first rom-com.

The visuals, no surprise, look stellar, and I found myself transfixed during the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment during the teaser when there’s a view of Element City from the train’s window. As far as the animation, by the way, I also love the little touches — like the wisps of flame that flicker from Ember even when she’s shown in the teaser wearing a cloak over her “body,” which is basically a burning flame.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but please, Pixar — don’t let me down.

Two more projects from the studio headed to Disney Plus

In addition to Elemental, meanwhile, here’s a quick at two other Pixar releases coming later this year, both of which are series that are headed to Disney Plus.

Win or Lose

Directed by Carrie Hobson and Michael Yates, Win or Lose is reportedly going to begin streaming this fall. From the official summary: “Win or Lose follows the Pickles, a co-ed middle school softball team, in the week leading up to their championship game. Each episode takes place that same week, highlighting the perspective of a different main character — players, their parents, the umpire — each reflected in a unique visual style.”

Dug Days: Carl’s Date

The third Pixar project that we know is also coming this year is Dug Days: Carl’s Date — a follow-up to the shorts miniseries Dug Days that was released back in 2021 (and which also functions as a sequel to Pixar’s 2009 movie Up).

There’s no Disney Plus release date yet for this one, but it basically follows Dug, the adorable dog from Up, and his elderly owner, the cantankerous Carl Fredricksen. Those, of course, are two of the most memorable and beloved characters in Pixar’s entire canon.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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