Tag Archives: Tricoast

“Lava”: A Great Premise with Questionable Production

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

First off, I just want to say thanks again to Jenna from Tricoast Studios and Rock Salt Releasing for allowing me to see the film early. All of the opinions here are my own. However, they did allow me to view the film for free, so feel free to take that into account while reading this review. Without further ado, here are my thoughts:

huh…That was certainly an adult animated film based on the comic book “Lava” by Salvador Sanz.

I was feel a bit of hesitation in reviewing animated indie films like this, especially ones where the original production is in another language. Because I barely watch movies to begin with, and especially do not watch comic book adaptations that often, my opinions always feel a bit out of place. There was definitely a lot of stuff that went completely over my head due to not being familiar at all with the source material. However, even with that being the case, I would say I still mostly enjoyed the movie.

For those not familiar, which will probably be most reading this, “Lava” is an animated comedy film directed by Ayar Blasco about a group of Tattoo artist friends who one day get together to watch one of their favorite shows only jointly experience the end of the world. Giant cats, a man-eating snake, and an alien group come to take over the world, but will they be able to fight back? You’ll just have to watch and see.

Its pretty obvious within the first few minutes of the movie that the English version of the movie was kind of an after thought. I mean, that’s totally fine, not everything has to be catered to an English speaking audience, but the quality of the English release definitely suffers as a result. The best performance undoubtedly came from Janeane Garofalo, who voices the main character Deborah, a woman whose life appears to be in crisis even before this end of the world scenario, as the film follows its opening scene with Deborah making it home only to be confronted about her souring romantic life by her roommate.

Another problem that arises is that, with the movie having been made primarily for the Spanish language production, the lip-syncing for the English voice-over looks pretty bad, to the point of being almost distracting in certain scenes. Again, for some reason, Deborah’s lines appear to be synced the best, while the rest of the cast just looks really off. The lackluster lip-syncing also creates a lot of friction in the delivery of the jokes. There were a lot of scenes where it was extremely apparent that the joke was very much intended to be understood in Spanish, and that the English translation was just kind of ok.


It may sound like I didn’t like anything about the movie, but that is definitely not true. For starters, I have always found end of the world premises to be really interesting. Whether it be other comedies like Seth Rogen’s “End of the World” or more serious takes like “The Walking Dead,” the idea of what do when society as we know it collapses beneath our feet is gripping because of how many different ideas there are on the subject.

There is also a kind of counter-culture narrative here which I can definitely appreciate. Deborah, being a tattoo artist, is considered a chosen one by these new alien invaders, because of the powerful art which she can supposedly bring to life. Even if it is just a comedy film, I do think a lot of the meaning of the main narrative is also lost in cultural translations, because tattoos often have very different associations depending on where one is. In the U.S., a lot of people view tattoos as a form of body modification that, in many conservative sects of western religions is considered heretical. In Japan, tattoos are still mostly associated with the Yakuza, or Japanese Mafia, and thus it is frowned upon to show them in public, to the point where many Onsen (public bath houses) ban people with tattoos.

The concept of tattoo artists being heroes of the world is really cool in that way, as they both figuratively and literally fight against people’s preconceptions of what it means to be an artist.

The animation for the film also seems to exist in that sort of weird grey zone of being purposefully rough in places but extremely expressive in others. For example, there is a scene right after she leaves her ex’s tattoo place where she is walking down the sidewalk only for her character model to get smaller as she moves away from the camera. At first I thought this was just bad, but the use of this technique to emphasize how small she feels in her inability to control the direction of her life, both due to the world ending but also because of her relationship is a really nice touch.

While I can not say “Lava” is my favorite tri-coast release I have seen so far, as that honor probably belongs to “Violence Voyager,” it definitely has a lot of good elements. However, I do think there were just too many things that did not work for me to call the film truly great. Still, if you are interesting in checking it out, the film will be releasing worldwide tomorrow, March 15th, on Amazon, InDemand, iTunes, Google Play, DirecTV, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, FANDANGO in both English & Spanish. I would highly recommend trying it in Spanish with subtitles if you can, as I think that version might solve a lot of the problems I had with it.

If you do end up seeing the film after reading this, be sure to come back and leave a comments letting me know your thoughts.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Finding Santa: A Pretty Wholesome Christmas Tale

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Hello again everyone, hope you all are doing well. For today’s post, I have something special for you all. The wonderful people over at Tricoast gave me another movie to review, this one a bit more holiday themed.

The movie I will be reviewing today is called Finding Santa. Since I am a little behind, by the time this review is out, the movie will already be out for streaming on the following services:

  • Amazon
  • ITunes
  • Google Play

Along with any others. Also, for those who prefer physical copies of their media, the film is also already available on DVD. Minor spoiler warning as well for the review. With that being said, here are my thoughts.

Christmas, arguably the most celebrated holiday today, is an important part of many people’s year. In fact, it has become so important that many are debating online, at least in the United States, about whether or not its OK to put up their trees before Thanksgiving. It is also incredibly important to the story of Finding Santa, a 2016 film directed by Jacob Ley.

The story of Finding Santa revolves around eight-year-old Julius, an orphan living at Bellhaven who loves Christmas more than anyone else.  However, due to the bullying and lying of two other orphanage boys Gregory and Squeak, Julius stops believing in Christmas. However, a strange encounter with a voice inside a box full of Christmas toys leads Julius on an adventure to save both Santa and Christmas by taking down Krampus.

The story of Finding Santa is not all that new as it relates to other holiday films. At its most basic, it is a film about a boy losing faith in those around him, and as such loses faith in Christmas. There is a very similar plot line in the second Home Alone movie, where Kevin is roaming around New York, lost and confused and almost loses faith in Christmas as a result. Julius is pretty similar to Kevin in this regard, but is maybe a bit better written. Still as far as main characters go, he is pretty hard to root against, given the fact that he is growing up in an orphanage where Christmas is one of the only things he can look forward to.

The other two major characters in the movie are Gregory and Squeak, the two bullies who make Julius hate Christmas. The reason they do so is because ever since Julius showed up as a kid, Alfred, their cartaker, had been giving Julius a lot of attention. Gregory and Squeak are also not too particularly interesting as characters, but in this case they do not need to be, because their function in the story is simply to act as the catalyst to both the beginning an end of Julius’s journey.

Two other characters worth talking about are Sophina the angel and Herman the pig. Being two of the figures in Julius’s toy box, Sophina and Herman know who Julius is and help him when he gets arrives in the world inside the box. In fact, it is Sophina’s idea for Julius to act as the new Santa in order to save Christmas. Herman often serves as transportation for Julius, but he is still an enjoyable presence on screen nonetheless.


The story, while definitely not complex, layers in a lot of little things that would otherwise go unnoticed if more was going on. One example of this is the symbolism found in Alfred’s red Christmas ornament. At the beginning of the film, when he initially finds the Santa suit in Alfred’s closet, the Christmas ornament falls and breaks, losing a small piece. This is representative of the fact that in that moment, Julius’s belief in Christmas has been broken. The ornament then makes a reappearance much later on, when it is revealed that Santa is not actually dead, but rather that Krampus has trapped him inside of the broken ornament. Here we see Santa ready to just give up on Christmas. He too has a broken belief in Christmas holiday that he makes possible, and its both literally and figuratively trapped. At the end of the film, After everyone gets together around the tree, Julius hangs the ornament, showing that even though both he and the ornament were broken, they are still ready to move on.

The animation was pretty overall pretty good, and added a lot to the feel of the movie. It really felt like all of the movement in each was necessary, and added to each scene well. There were parts where it was somewhat obvious that they reused shots, but those moments were few and far between, and often justified in doing so. There were also parts where the clay like texture of the animation made the characters or visuals look a bit stiff as well, and those parts did take a way a bit from the enjoyment.

Speaking of stiff, the voice acting could have been better. A lot of the lines were delivered extremely awkwardly, and it also kind of took me out of the atmosphere the film was trying to create. Now, its hard to complain too much about this, considering it is a Danish film, and that from what I can tell, a lot of the voice actors probably learned English as a second language.

Overall, I think my feelings about Finding Santa are similar to my feelings about Violence Voyager, mainly that while there a lot of problems with the film, it still adds up to be an enjoyable experience.

I mentioned it at the beginning of the post, but if you guys have any interest in seeing Finding Santa, it is available now both on DVD and on streaming. If you have seen it, how do you feel about it? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!