“Love, Death & Robots” offers everything, but not for everybody
Views 24 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 8 - 2019 | By: Craig Odenwald
In a wavy grassland, mechanized warriors make their final stand. A woman runs for her life through a psychedelic city street. Through the hull of a doomed spaceship, one man meets his match. These are all different, unrelated stories, yet contain three signature qualities along with a few that would have been best left on the cutting room floor.
Produced by Tim Miller, “Love, Death and Robots” is a Netflix anthology series that features eighteen 5-20 minute shorts about everything from deep space to werewolf soldiers to the end of the world. It’s incredibly ambitious and proves science fiction’s ability to stake a claim in any genre and still tell unique stories today.
One area where the series absolutely succeeds is in its visuals. Shorts like “Beyond the Aquila Rift” by Leon Berelle, which tells a chilling tale about going off-course in deep space, utilizes stunning motion capture to make its performances feel realistic and nuanced. The animation does a fantastic job conveying the terror and confusion of the crew’s captain, Tom, as he struggles to figure out how to get his companions home. Other shorts use a blend of hand-drawn and computer animation to make the settings pop. “Good Hunting” by Oliver Thomas is able to show a variety of locations beautifully, from a faraway village in China to the bustling streets of medieval Hong Kong. The series immerses audiences in its settings well.
The series works hard to help you care about characters’s plights and their relationships, though the brief episode runtimes make that difficult. “Suits” by Franck Balson is the best of the bunch, as it portrays three farmers piloting mechs against a massive alien infestation threatening their land. The farmers’ families and their friendships ground the zany premise and make for an extremely entertaining action piece. Other shorts like “Three Robots” and “When the Yogurt Took Over” play their dark settings for laughs and put a new spin on some of science fiction’s oft-asked questions about whether there is much hope left at all for humanity. Is there? The three robots don’t seem to think so, and neither does the yogurt.
Despite so much variety, however, “Love, Death & Robots” isn’t accessible for a mainstream audience. Even though it has a smorgasbord of well-animated action, unique drama, and gripping romance, it is far too determined to push the limits of its TV-MA rating. Gratuitous language, nudity, and sexual violence make many shorts an uncomfortable viewing. Kills are gory and over-the-top, as the protagonists find themselves helpless at the hands of cruel creatures and evil masterminds. While their interactions should provide someone for the audience to root for, the end results are often more disturbing than they are entertaining. It’s a shame, since the animation and story premises are incredibly creative. “Love, Death and Robots” somehow includes a little bit of everything, yet doesn’t have something for everyone.