Staring at a Volcano – Into the Inferno (2016)

A whole lot of lava.  So this is the newest documentary from one of the most renown and crazy German directors working today, Mr. Werner Herzog.  Active volcanoes are on his docket, so it is time to start traveling around the world.  Herzog is a bit out there, to say the least.  I love it when he gets to act in a character role like in Jack Reacher, just because it is so rare to see, but I like it even more when he narrates.  He has one of the most unique and distinct voices out there, and whenever he’s got something to say, you can’t help but be enthralled by him because the combination of his speech patterns and conversational topics make for an experience that is sure to send shock waves up and down your spine.  In addition to that, he’s also an immensely talented filmmaker, so he’s got a lot going on for him.

1David Attenborough, eat your heart out.

I couldn’t really tell what direction this was going from in the beginning.  At the start, you get to see this active volcano in Indonesia where the people worship it as a god.  It’s quaint, but it’s different and interesting, if only for the culture shock in how different the native people are to the modern world.  In fact, almost all of these locations have interesting quirks and characteristics about them… but when you get to Ethiopia, this movie comes to a grinding halt so fast, it practically flips the car over.  They dig for fossils of old human remains, and it takes a solid 15 – 20 minutes.  It is torturous and very likely the cure for insomnia.  And the worst part about it is that it comes smack dab right in the middle of this piece; right when it should be speeding up, it instead makes you want to switch to something else or even stop altogether and do something more productive like clean your house.

2I would have made for a bad paleontologist.

The footage captured here is both incredible and breathtaking.  There is something about these lava shots and billowing ash clouds that are hypnotizing, which make it easy to lose yourself in the visuals.  The sheer power of these natural phenomeons are intimidating, and you never at any point forget just how dangerous it is to get footage that is this up this close and personal.  The documentary itself does run rather long, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get overly restless watching this.  There is advertisement for other Herzog movies in this one, and while this is pretty niche for people who have a passion for volcanoes, you have to respect Herzog for being the talented filmmaker that he is.

Into the Inferno (2016) ***

– Critic for Hire

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