Love, Death & Robots: Season One Review
Hollywood heavyweights David Fincher and Tim Miller join forces to bring us Love, Death & Robots, the new animated anthology series from Netflix. What originally started out as a project based on the Heavy Metal movie from the early eighties arrives as an eighteen episode first season that is visually arresting and very definitely NSFW.
Fans of animation and science-fiction in general have been well served by Netflix recently with the Godzilla Planet trilogy, Voltron and the soon to be released Ultraman adaptation to name but a few. Love, Death & Robots is a worthy and interesting addition to the streaming service. The series showcases a range of different animation styles from almost photorealistic CGI to more traditional 2D anime fare. Animation has always looked good in hi-def and this series is no exception with vibrant colours popping off the screen, particularly in the episode “Fish Night” where ethereal denizens of the deep swim through a desert sky, bewitching a couple of tired travellers who unfortunately have forgotten that the sea also holds some monstrous predators.
Only one of the episodes entitled “Ice Age” is actually mostly live action and stars Topher Grace and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a couple who discover a lost civilisation in their freezer. It reminded me of the Halloween episode of The Simpsons where Lisa’s science project evolves into a utopia and also of the Futurama episode where Bender floats through space as a new civilisation accelerates through the ages and ultimately destroys itself.
The one thing nearly all the episodes have in common is violence. Lots of violence. Incredibly visceral and over the top, and when combined with lashings of nudity (both male and female) and some absolutely gratuitous adult language then this is where your ultimate appreciation (or not) of Love, Death & Robots will lay. It’s unlikely a series from the directors who brought us Seven, Fight Club and Deadpool was ever going to be particularly family friendly. I expect this series to split viewers right down the middle. Like the famous yeast extract spread I suspect you will either love the series or utterly detest it. It has to be said that it is absolutely in keeping with the original comic stories to be found in the French magazine Metal Hurlant which was then adapted into the 1981 feature film. Both the comics and the movie also heavily featured nudity and violence as par for the course. This was Europe in the ’70’s to be fair. Whether or not you think this style of storytelling is still relevant now will probably depend on how much you can channel your inner 14 year old boy. Personally a lot of the episodes appealed to my more juvenile sensibilities but definitely be warned that Love, Death & Robots is not for everyone.
It has to be said however that as the episodes only run between 6 and 18 minutes long nothing really outstays its welcome and if one episode isn’t doing it for you then another one will be along shortly that might appeal to you more. There are a few more family oriented gems among the episodes which you could happily sit down and watch with your kids or in-laws. The aforementioned “Fish Night” and “Ice Age” episodes fit this category as does this excellent “Suits” where space cowboys try to protect their herds from inter dimensional bugs using giant mech suits that James Cameron would be proud of.
With a couple of episodes based on short stories by John Scalzi and Joe R Lansdale it’s not surprising that there are also a lot of laughs to be found, highlights being Scalzi’s “Three Robots” where some android tourists explore a post apocalyptic wasteland bewildered by the exploits of the long dead human occupants and their cats and “Alternate Histories” where we get to see Hitler killed in a variety of amusing ways. Another episode features a sentient yoghurt trying to put one over on humanity and ultimately succeeding.
Reportedly Netflix will give you one of four different running orders depending on your previous viewing habits. Seeing as it gave me “Sonnie’s Edge” first, a stunningly realistic CGI affair depicting a beautiful lesbian engaging in a giant monster beat ‘em up contest, I’m not sure if I should be offended or not.
As an experiment I think Love, Death & Robots works and is well worth following up. I would suggest that maybe later seasons could have more of a thread running through them even if it’s only a loose connection just to make things a bit more coherent. It’s certainly not for everyone, I’d absolutely steer well clear if you are easily offended, but if you don’t mind heavy doses of bone-crushing violence, ludicrously gratuitous nudity and cringeworthy swearing all wrapped up in some beautiful animation then you should definitely give it a look.
Love,Death & Robots is currently available to stream exclusively on Netflix.