Release Date: June 19th, 2015 MPAA Rating: G
Director: James Ford Murphy Actors: Napua Greig, Kuana Torres Kahele
n “Lava,” it’s immediately apparent that nonhuman environments make the most charming and visually stunning computer animated subjects. The photorealistic creations are a sight to behold – and that’s even before the main characters appear. In the tradition of boldly original concepts, “Lava” tells the tale of a lonely singing volcano, residing out in the middle of the ocean. As he croons to the wildlife, including turtles and whales and birds, he’s reminded that every creature seems to have a romantic companion – except for himself.
As the years pass, he doesn’t give up singing and wishing for a fellow volcano to share his time with, even as he approaches the verge of extinction (due to rising water levels and a cooling core). As only Disney/Pixar would devise, a notably female volcano sprouts up (to join in with a stirring duet) just as the older mountain is buried beneath the waves – and facing the opposite direction, so that she won’t even know that she’s not alone (for an almost hilariously sad sequence). Going for the emotionally resonating angle instead of a purely comedic one, “Lava” makes impressive use of every second to make a simple story surprisingly touching. It’s sensational stuff, especially considering it’s merely a short piece designed to play theatrically in front of “Inside Out.”
– Mike Massie