Lava (2019) – ★★★

Lava (2019) – ★★★

Lava finds Buenos Aires in a state of chaos as giant snakes, cats and witches start taking out people one by one. This entertaining, albeit all too short feature, is a lighthearted adult animation that will bring the chuckles and you asking for more.

Débora, a lonely tattoo artist, endeavours to save herself and her town from an alien invasion. The aliens come in the form of large cats, cackling witches, and never-ending snakes; what’s more, these dangerous invaders have harnessed the media as a means to hypnotise humanity into submission. Deborah must learn to resist their control and convince others to do the same.

Starting off with our foursome watching a pirated version of Gain of Clones. You know from the get-go that there will be some sly digs at pop culture, so when our aliens come as giant cute cats, you have set yourself in for quite the ride. This satire knows exactly where to point fun at; characters know they are animated; for example, others say to not talk about the giant witch as it may bring her attention to them, for a character to then talk about the said witch. Yet a solid enough story grows here.

With Débora still yearning for her ex, her roommate Nadia tries to distract her with a potential new beau. Débora has no intention of liking poor Samuel (If you ever watched New Girl, this is an animated version of Bear Claw). So when their TV and laptop goes on the fritz, the group thinking nothing of it and carry on their night. It is not until morning that the weird interference on everyone’s screens makes a very physical sense. From here, our group try to survive with the mysterious magazine Lava becoming all the more important. As the aliens around talented humans create an obscure mural for them, those who created LAVA have started a resistance; the only question is, can the group make it to them before they are caught?

Obviously, Lava was not made to be a sprawling 2-hour feature to fill us in on all of the intricacies of this animated world. However, some more explanation would be lovely. Not only to clue the audience but also to give us more time in the world that Ayar Blasco and his team have created. Perhaps there has been a little lost in the translation. But there are occasions that something narratively feels missing from the movie.

This is a 67 or so minute film that is absolutely slammed with information and ideas. As mentioned, more time would be needed to flash it all out. By the time our lead reaches the finale, the film is abrupt as possible with its resolution. With an open ending, it feels as if there has been a bit of a cheat going on here as we should have something to take away with us instead of the well-worn screen versus paper argument.

The ideas of aliens taking on these massive forms to defeat mankind or utilise technology and screens to control us are sharp and pointed. Yet, it doesn’t go far enough to examine the point it is trying to make. By the time we discover Lava’s truth and those trying to become the resistance, we are left scratching our heads a tad as we leave that well thought out idea to get to the next scene, which is a damn shame, really.

Lavas loose narrative is accommodated by its animation. Those expecting a beautiful Studio Ghibli jaunt are in for a bit of disappointment, but this 2D animation brings the charm that if it was 3D and a modern animation style. It would lose itself. This is certainly a film style that those who grew up in the late 90s and early 00s will automatically gravitate towards and find a tonne to enjoy. The best example of the animation (for those who haven’t seen the trailer) is that it most resembles a crude comic come to life and the fact that you don’t mind that as you watch the film shows how fun this film really is.

Lava is a film that truly needed another 30 minutes to help flesh out its ideas. With its self-referential humour to itself and the genre, there is a lot to love. Sadly it never takes advantage of the goodwill it has easily gained and leaves the audience feeling like they have missed something. What is an otherwise wonderful little animation just doesn’t go far enough to make itself stand out from the crowd.

Rock Salt Releasing will release ‘Lava’ onto various digital streaming platforms on 3/15/2021. Via Amazon, InDemand, iTunes, Google Play, DirecTV, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, FANDANGO in both English & Spanish.


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