“Lava” Offers A Ton Of Interesting Ideas But Doesn’t Hit The Mark – Movie Review
From co-writers Ayar Blasco (who is also the director), Nicolás Britos, and Salvador Sanz, Lava is an Argentinian animated offering that isn’t going to be for everyone. It will likely make you frustrated because it wants you to feel that way. It’s just weird.
I was provided with a free digital screener of Lava for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.
The premise of Lava is wild. We have Deborah, a tattoo artist (in her mid-20s?), who finds herself surviving an alien invasion along with her roommate Nadia, Nadia’s boyfriend, and a guy Nadia wants Deborah to hook up with. And while surviving an alien invasion is nothing new, turns out said invasion involves giant cats, a snake and a tree (Norse mythology), a witch, and so much more. The aliens hypnotize humanity. But for some reason, Deborah and a handful of others are immune to the hypnotizing visuals being shown via TV screens, cellphones, computers, etc.
It’s made clear quite early that something isn’t right. Deborah notices the signs and tries to make sense of the strange events. She figures out the invasion is connected to a comic book named ‘Lava’ which predicted everything. Also, tattoo artists are supposed to be the chosen ones, with Deborah being the most special.
Trying to review the overall story without spoiling stuff is tough because it’s deliberately all over the place. So, I’ll try to talk about the themes I liked in Lava.
A major arc for Deborah is learning to let go of a toxic relationship. The scene where she decided to go see her ex-boyfriend because the world was ending was understandable. It wasn’t a healthy thing for her to do, but it was human. The story also had Deborah address her feelings for her roommate Nadia and how something romantically healthy might be present between them if they decide to explore it.
I appreciated the queer representation in Lava. However, due to it being a bonkers comedy, be ready for the queer rep not being handled as well as it could have been.
Other themes involved humanity’s obsession with media and the things we give our attention to. There’s a lot of talk about artistic integrity and how the world is always ready to exploit artists. Also, the feeling of being stuck in a monotonous pattern in your professional life is something many will relate to.
As for the issues in Lava, even with a crazy premise, the pacing is very uneven. For me, a handful of moments in the approximate 60-minute runtime really dragged (which is surprising due to everything that’s going on). Another thing I didn’t like involved a moment that basically forced me not to care about the main cast. That particular moment dealt with how getting hurt worked in Lava. I have no idea why the writers decided to go down such a route. I was actually a bit concerned about the well-being of Deborah and her crew before that scene occurred.
Also, be ready for Lava to not provide answers to a lot of questions. I think if you go into it knowing what will be offered (a wild concept with comedy and instances highlighting real-world themes), you’ll enjoy it more. I had no clue about what I was really getting into and the ending made me go, “What the heck?!”
As far as I can tell, Lava is clearly focused on the experimental side of animated art rather than telling a coherent story.
Come March 15, 2021, Rock Salt Releasing will make Lava available on Amazon, InDemand, iTunes, Google Play, DirecTV, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, and Fandango in both English and Spanish.
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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