Lava looks and feels like something out of a different era. The animated feature starring the voice talents of Janeane Garofalo as a tattoo artist is about a group of friends who meet to watch Gain of Clones. Suddenly, the power goes out, everyone forgets the past two minutes of their lives, and giant cats seem to be invading the world.
The animation is reminiscent of early Nicktoons or MTV’s Liquid Television. Character models are simple and backgrounds are very basic. This adds a cute quality to a story that deals with serious themes. It is an odd juxtaposition that hurts the story more than it helps it. Lava is filled with humor, but it the tone and the art style never quite match up.
Lava does feature different styles of animation. While the main story may not impress, the segments about Norse mythology and the comic book are well done. It is a welcome change of pace. It seems like the story is supposed to take center stage. Lava has issues of friendship, trust, and consumption of mass media woven into its post apocalyptic tale. There are also some moments when the film breaks the fourth wall. There is so much happening it gives things a disjointed feel at times.
In the end, this is what impacts Lava the most. The plot is a familiar one that can be fun. The issue is the film takes on too much in its roughly hour long run time. It simply is not enough time to adequately deal with the subjects. There is a lot of fun to be found here. The mass media message is a common one everyone can relate to and the story of friends coming together during their time of greatest need is an easy sell and the even the silly animation could work in the right context.
Lava will be available on digital streaming platforms March 15
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