Elemental Trailer: Fire Meets Water in Pixar's Most Literal Metaphor Yet

The studio’s stunning visuals haven’t lost a step.

Written by Chrishaun Baker
Walt Disney Pictures

The trailer for Disney and Pixar’s newest animated outing, Elemental, has arrived today, and it looks to be another stunning adventure packed with a rich high-concept allegory. Last year brought two major releases from the studio: Lightyear, which told the tale of the in-universe film that inspired the Buzz Lightyear toyline, and Turning Red, a delightful and heartwarming story about a Chinese-Canadian girl struggling with puberty, her relationship with her mother, and a curse that turns her into a giant red panda.

Ever since their earliest films, Pixar has embraced the potential of the high-concept alternate reality, and that approach has delivered some of their most memorable projects. Older classics like Monsters, Inc. and Cars, as well as recent films like Coco and Onward, thrive on creating expansive worlds that are wildly different yet crucially similar to ours, and based on the trailer, Elemental seems like it will be following in that time-honored tradition.

The film follows a vivacious young woman named Ember (Leah Lewis), a resident of Element City who’s never ventured far from her home of Firetown. Of course, that changes when she meets Wade (Mamoudou Athie), a man from the water district who brings her on an adventure that spans the entire city. Not only do they (presumably) fall in love during their journey, but they also realize that, despite their differences, the elements are all fundamentally the same where it counts.

Alongside the endearing characters, Elemental looks like another breathtaking showcase of Pixar’s animation style. Elemental City might fit in next to Coco’s Land of the Dead as one of the most beautiful landscapes ever created by the studio, with the vibrancy of the different districts brought to life with staggering creativity and gorgeous attention to detail. The city feels alive, with the citizens in the trailer having their own personalities and physical attributes that keep the world feeling unique and immersive.

Directed by Peter Sohn, Elemental carries elements of his own life, as he was the child of immigrants in New York City and became acutely aware of the vibrant atmosphere brought about by different cultures living together. Based on the trailer, it looks like Sohn has captured the inherent beauty of the melting pot, and audiences will be able to visit Elemental City themselves when the film releases in 3D on June 16th.

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