Review : Love, Death and Robots

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A sprawling anthology of 18 animated shorts with run-time at an average of just 12 minutes, lashed together by a prominent David Fincher producing credit, this pic’n’mix show is short, satisfyingly wicked and self-consciously NSFW.. !!

The binge-worthy title features 18 shorts, each with their own signature animation, storytelling style, and varying levels of maturity. And when I say “maturity”, sometimes that means “thoughtful and complex messages delivered by computer-generated characters cleverly wrapped up in a sci-fi landscape”, and sometimes that means, tits, ass, blood, violence, and gratuitous sex.

Love, Death & Robots throws a lot at its audience and this leads to it being a show that has very high highs and very low lows.Stories aren’t afraid to touch on issues like societal and class strife via science fiction and one of the hand-drawn segments is all about opulence and excess and feels like it could exist in an immersive fantasy universe. There are some incredible depictions of warfare and carnage through several installments, even if they fall a little flat.

This generous variation in content doesn’t necessarily lead to the strongest overall series, but it does make for a fascinating collection that’s worth checking out…

Best Shorts

Good Hunting

All of the segments in Love, Death & Robots are based on short stories, but “Good Hunting” has the most impressive literary pedigree, being adapted from the story of the same name by three-time Hugo Award–winning author Ken Liu. Eschewing the futuristic, Euro-centric mold of many of the series’ segments, “Good Hunting”is set in China in the early 1900s, relying on aspects of both traditional folklore and the steampunk genre to unfold the tale of a young inventor’s lifelong friendship with a fox spirit, and the alliance that makes them both into forces whose oppressors should fear them. Be sure to read Ken Liu‘s source material here.

Sonnie’s Edge

It opens with a gorgeous CG dive into a city’s underworld, shadowy, slick with grime, marked with UV paint. We soon meet some stylish cyberpunks who are met by a pair of gilded, glamorous types dressed for a party. The punks deliver a creature for an underground fighting event, a creature that one of said cyberpunks will pilot through a neural link. How badass is that.. ?

But the real badassery of the short, which features a gnarly creature pit-fight and even gnarlier action outside of it, centers on Sonnie, a woman with a dark and mysterious past. The layers of that past are peeled back as the story goes on, full of twists and turns; some you may see coming, others you won’t, but in the end it’s a worthwhile ride to take. Be sure to read Peter F. Hamilton‘s source story here.

Zima Blue

To say too much about this short is to give away what makes it great, so you should seek this one out before reading any further. That being said, Zima Blue best captures what it’s like to read a really compelling, well-told, and thoughtful sci-fi story for the first time. It somehow manages to capture what it’s like for an artist to seek (and find) truth and fulfillment while also telling a fully fleshed-out sci-fi story at the same time.

Helping Hand

A woman working to repair a shuttle gets knocked into outer space, and is forced to rely on her cunning and inner strength to save her own skin. Yes, it sounds a lot like Gravity — but “Helping Hand” distinguishes itself with a teeth-gritting, stomach-churning solution to the problem. The story resolves itself a little too neatly, and the final line of dialogue is a groaner, but “Helping Hand” is still an ideal sci-fi short: quick, punchy, and memorable.

When the Yogurt Took Over

More punny than funny, this is another short that features photo-realistic backgrounds with puppet-like avatars for humans. If you can get on board with the idea that a genetically engineered Lactobacillus culture solved fusion and is able to talk through gas bubbles it generates, you’ll enjoy this short. And if you always wanted yogurt to take over Ohio, all the better.


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