Lava is a cartoon from Argentina that you can pre-order anywhere digitally for March 15tth. It will be available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Direct TV, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, and FANDANGO to try it yourself. I am saying now because after I am done writing about it, I don’t think that you would be as interested in knowing as much about in the future. Or maybe you will because your tastes are different from mine. In some ways, I watched the antithesis of what I enjoy in animated media from watching this for review.
This is the story of a tattoo artist by the name of Deborah. She is supposedly a lonely and shy women who lives with her roommate Nadia. One night when Nadia invites her boyfriend and their one friend over to watch a certain Gain of Clones from illegal download, the world goes to hell. Well, not as far as they know because they just static in their video signal. The next day, everything changed due to an alien invasion. The entire city was locked down because of the giant cats that appeared on top of buildings through out the city. Then a lot of other surreal things happen and tattoo artists are here to save the world. It is what it is.
As I said earlier, Lava is the antithesis of a lot of things that I like watching animation for. This has the feel of an American adult cartoon series with it’s humor and attempts at societal commentary and there is reason why I don’t like those things. They are usually edgy for edgy’s sake, have voice acting with horrible voices that may fit their characters for the type of media they are going for but I don’t like, and don’t really answer anything. This one is worse because it’s very disjointed. It feels like the director work on a scene by scene basis instead of thinking of an over all story because nothing really clicks together and things just happen to happen.
The biggest example of this was when our main cast fill down from the top of a building and died. Moments later, the cast just continues to walk on and mention “I’m so glad we are drawn”. That was the largest moment that took me completely out of the experience because this is the first and only fourth wall break in the commercial right now. In the film itself before hand, people have died from different circumstances before hand. I guess we don’t have to worry about our main characters dying any soon now. Nope, no stakes. Combine that with off the wall and pointless moments of tension and sexual exploration here and there and that’s what Lava is like.
I also don’t like the art style at all. Not just because it was very cheap flash animation, but because there didn’t seem to be a lot of effort into making it all click. I know that Argentina doesn’t make as much animated works as the United States or Japan, but they have animated things before. I absolutely detest the horrible character designs and I hate the lack of attempt of a complete lip sync from the dub, the awkward perspectives shots of characters waling on a side walk away from camera and the models not changing in size, or when Deborah was drawing with a pencil and it’s obvious that she was just dragged the full pencil on paper instead of at the right angle to draw something. That was so cheap.
I suppose there are some good things with this animation I guess. I think the cg on the cats and the eventual snakes were pretty good for this level of art style. The cats moved as fluidly as the traditionally drawn characters and the snake that appeared was very cool. It seems like there was a lot more work and love in making the cg parts of the animation work because the compositing was very good. Everything felt like it belonged in this universe which is hard to do. Maybe next time, there could be equal efforts into both sides so it could at least look ok. Or maybe have it just be fully cg or something.
So who would I recommend this to? Anyone who has watched the cheap and older New Grounds or Youtube pieces of animation from ten years or so ago. That really does feel like what this is when everything is connected together and why it feels as outdated as it was. There is a surreal nature to Lava, but it’s hard to tell if it’s by having it being as disjointed as it is or because director Ayar Blasco intended it that way. Either way, this was clearly not for me. Who knows, maybe try it yourself to see what kind of reaction you can get from it. You know where to look that up.