D: Peter Sohn

Disney / Pixar (Denise Ream)

US 🇺🇸 2023

101 mins


W: Kat Likkel, John Hoberg & Brenda Hsueh

Mus: Thomas Newman

voices of: Leah Lewis (Ember Lumen), Mamoudou Athie (Indie Ripple), Ronnie del Carmen (Bernie Lumen), Shila Ommi (Cinder Lumen), Wendi McLendon (Gale Cumulus), Catherine O’Hara (Brook Ripple)

A rare misfire from Disney & Pixar with this 2023 release, whose poor box office returns I’d put down to the fact that audiences were awaiting its home release on the steaming service Disney+, rather than packing out cinemas, but also that the story was basically a reworking of the quite excellent Zootopia (aka Zootropolis) from 7 years earlier.

Set in a magical world where anthropomorphic elements of nature live in relative harmony, Ember Lumen, a fire element with an explosive temper, accidentally puts her family’s convenience store at risk of closure, and acquires the help of a bookish water element, Indie Ripple, to help her succeed.

There’s a rather obvious and quite heavy-handed moral to the story that we should all accept and embrace the differences in others, and whilst the animation looks amazing & the voice cast are fine, it’s just not a particularly interesting or engaging journey that we follow the two main characters on, distinctly lacking in action, intrigue, mystery or even an adventurous quest - instead it’s just a series of set pieces consisting of politically correct dialogue which sound like they were written by former journalists for Buzzfeed or the Huffington Post.

Easily one of the weakest films to come from both Pixar and/or Disney - particularly the latter, who had a financially disappointing few years in the lead up to this film’s release.