Love, Death and Robots

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Love, Death and Robots

Postby cmsellers » Tue Mar 26, 2019 5:15 am

This is a Netflix anthology series, officially animated, though fully a third of the episodes appear to be live action with CGI effects. (I was really impressed by how good the animation was until I saw Samira Wiley.) My father described it as science fiction, though a lot of it is fantasy and horror, indeed I'd say it's more horror than anything else. It's a reboot of the 1981 film Heavy Metal, which I hadn't heard of until I'd started watching it and didn't see until after, and will talk about it at the end.

So going into it, my first reaction was "there's a lot of gore" here, and my next reaction was "there's a lot of gratuitous nudity." I don't like gore, that's always a negative, though sometimes it's a necessary evil. I'm pro-nudity, but the nudity was often unnecessary and distracting and didn't advance the plot. Apparently, gore+nudity is the aesthetic the creators go for. All of the episodes had gore and/or nudity, and I think only three had neither gore nor nudity I considered gratuitous.

Two of the episodes are based on stories I'd already read. One of those absolutely did the original justice, one changed the ending to something which was visually spectacular but a lot less scary than the original ending. Two of the episodes are original stories. One ("The Witness") I thought was really dumb, one of the worst episodes of the series, the other ("Blindspot") I thought as OK but kind of resembling a kid's show. Both of those episodes, though, were just an excuse for lots of action and explosions.

Indeed, most of the stories tend for action over plot, but almost half (seven of eighteen) are stories I'd describe as mainly plot-driven. Those include what I think are two of the three best episodes in the series: "Good Hunting" and "Zima Blue." The third episode among my favorites, "Suits," is action-driven, but I still liked it. My fourth-favorite episode is the first episode of the series, "Sonnie's Edge," another action episode." The episode "Fish Night" is plot-driven, and not a particularly interesting story, but it has probably my favorite visuals in the series.

I'd probably rate this series below Black Mirror but above the nineties reboot of Outer Limits, and those are the only other anthology series I've watched. The episodes being shorter than those series is both a positive and negative. One of the issues with Black Mirror and Outer Limits is that they have a lot of episodes that really, really drag. But they also allow time to do things you can't in Love, Death, and Robots. So the highs of both those series are arguably better, but the lows are definitely lower.

As for Heavy Metal, I watched it after the series. It had a comic-booky feel, in both the visuals and the "holy fuck is this hella problematic or what?" objectification of female characters. The gore was much more stylized than a lot of the gore in Love, Death, and Robots, and the bodies were so oddly shaped they made nudity look ridiculous. The segments felt more plot-driven than the average episode of Love, Death, and Robots, but the plots also weren't all that interesting. All the stories were original, and I'd say all were better than "The Witness" and the first and last story were better than "Blindspot," but I'm still very glad the creators of the show started adapting other people's stories instead.
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