New Trailer for Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ Reveals a Fantastical World With a Deeper Meaning (Video)

The new film from Peter Sohn draws on the director’s experience as the son of immigrants, and TheWrap got an early look at extended footage

Ready to visit the latest crazy world created by Pixar Animation Studio? Because you’ll do just that in the trailer for Pixar’s latest, “Elemental,” which you can watch above.

From the studio that brought toys to life, populated a world full of monsters and took you under the sea, “Elemental” explores what a vibrant metropolis would be if that metropolis was populated exclusively by anthropomorphic elements (made of fire, water, air, earth). The story follows a young fire woman named Ember (Leah Lewis) who falls in love with a water man named Wade (Mamoudou Athie). Sure, opposites attract, but when you’re made out of those materials, how does that even work?

Earlier this week, select press was shown about 20 minutes of footage from the new movie, which gave a much better sense of the characters and the larger world, and provided greater context in terms of how personal this story was to director Peter Sohn, whose parents immigrated from Korea and established a neighborhood grocery store in the Bronx. When introducing the footage, Sohn said that he wanted to make a movie about “appreciating the sacrifices our parents made for us.” Sohn later said that his grandmother’s dying wish was that he marry a Korean girl. He did not.

And while it’s easy to roll your eyes at another richly imagined Pixar fantasy realm, “Elemental” feels different, not only because the texture and sophistication of the visuals are so beyond what the company has dreamed up before. But because rooting the movie in Sohn’s actual story pays off dividends in terms of the emotional connection to the world and the characters. One sequence Pixar screened was the opening moments of the film, when Ember’s parents immigrate to Element City, an earnest, heart-tugging sequence that really set the tone for the rest of the footage that was screened.

Not that all of “Elemental” is “pretend you’re not crying but really are” material; one scene teased in the trailer that we saw in full was an Air Ball tournament – described by Sohn as a combination of “basketball and skydiving.” For this sequence, journalists put on 3D glasses and the extra dimensionality made the sequence really pop. There’s a moment when Wade starts an actual wave to cheer up his favorite player. This was one of the most complex sequences Pixar has ever worked on. According to Sohn and producer Denise Ream, this was one of the first sequences the “Elemental” team worked on and one of the last they actually finished. It’s that complex.

Joining Athie and Lewis in the cast are Ronnie del Carmen as Ember’s soon-to-be retired dad, Bernie; Shila Ommi as Ember’s love-seeking mom, Cinder; Wendi McLendon-Covey as Wade’s stormy and Air-Ball-loving boss, Gale; Catherine O’Hara as Wade’s welcoming mom, Brook; Mason Wertheimer as Ember’s admiring earth neighbor, Clod; and Joe Pera as an overgrown city bureaucrat, Fern.

“Elemental” debuts exclusively in theaters on June 16.