Kate Orson liked parts of the film but has serious reservations about its suitability


Film: Elemental

Rating: PG

Running Time: 1 hr.42 mins

Genre: Animation/Romantic Comedy

Overview: In Elemental city personified elements of earth, air, fire and water coexist but are not supposed to mix. This is the story of when two elements of fire, ‘Ember’ and water ‘Wade,’ fall in love.

What you liked:

The storyline is a tale of inclusion and love despite differences. The concept of different elements can be seen as a metaphor for racial differences and one of the strong themes in the film is how we can love and welcome all people.

The film has positive messages about managing and expressing emotions. I loved that the watery elements were so emotionally expressive, crying over everything. Ember has a fiery temper which she tries hard to control.

The animation creates a beautiful city with stunning visuals which reminded me of trips to modern Asian metropolis’s like Bangkok and Singapore. It was exotic and clearly took a lot of imagination and creativity to design. I loved the subway train, which is a boat which flows around a canal.

What you didn’t like: 

The use of the four elements raised alarm bells for me as the concept is used in wiccan witchcraft, astrology and Tarot. The mother of Ember the fire element does love ‘readings’ and can see the future and whether couples are a good match. Divination, which God considers an abomination is presented positively.

The film is a romance, and to me this didn’t set well with its animated format which appeals to children. The moment when the two elements decided to touch actually felt highly erotically charged, as the two are scared of what will happen when fire and water mix which creates a lot of tension. There are sexual references, albeit ones a child might not understand such as a comment on ‘hanky panky’ and a fire element is told they are looking ‘hot.’

Ember, the fire element, hides the fact that she is visiting a water element from her family. There are no negative consequences to her deception which felt problematic.

Thoughts for parents:

One of the themes of the film is the conflict for Ember of following parental expectations, and doing what she wants to do. The film pushes the message that doing what we want in life is a good thing, which is at odds with the Christian notion of God’s plan for our lives. This might raise an interesting discussion point that sometimes ‘the heart is deceitful’ and why it’s so important we bring God into decision making in our lives.

Traditionally the fire elements worship a blue flame and this could be an interesting discussion point about different faiths.

While the film was entertaining I wouldn’t recommend it to parents because I feel that the romance theme is not appropriate for the age of children that enjoy animated movies.

I would also be concerned that exposing children to the concept of the four elements, and the mother doing psychic readings could create a positive association with divination and witchcraft which could be spiritually dangerous. I’m not sure the positive messages in the film are worth the risk. 

2 stars