Currently on Netflix, Love, Death + Robots is an anthology series in which each episode is a self-enclosed story which is under 20 minutes long. The series is a re-imagining of David Fincher and Tim Miller’s science fiction animated film Heavy Metal made in 1981.
Now unlike normal reviews I cannot give a synopsis of the plot because each episode is a story that features different characters in different situations. The animation style varies between stories and a numerous crews worked on each instalment with each episodes dealing with at least one of the themes (love, death or robots) without necessarily including all three.
This review is going to be considerably shorter than my previous ones simply because I thought this series was spectacular. There were so many episodes which I would love to see expanded into longer films or even their own series. Sonny’s Edge and my personal favourite Beyond the Aquila Rift, both of which deal with different sci-fi futures.
The series can and does feature nudity and sex scenes but the cast are animated with only Topher Grace and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, appearing in live-action roles, who don’t disrobe at any point.
The violence is graphic but at no point is it sickening or unnecessary. It can be visceral, and as an animated show the violence doesn’t devolve into bad CGI because pretty much everything in the series is a creation of CGI.
The effects are pretty incredible and there are times when it is difficult to see if you are watching a live-action show or something made with computers.
There are episodes which fall pretty flat and seem to just be weird for the sake of being weird such as Fish Night or Alternate Histories. Thing is because the episodes are so short, if there is one you find you are not interested in, then it is over pretty quickly. Most episodes leave you hungry for more, but not everything can be gold, if you are experimenting with different animation techniques and styles.
Thinking about it, the series is a bit like the 2003 film The Animatrix which featured different adventures set within the world of The Matrix Trilogy. Each episode featured different characters, with the connecting theme being the Matrix itself. An athlete was able to wake himself up in the real world due to how far he pushed his body within the Matrix. In another, a group of children found a “haunted” house in which they could float, and dust moved upwards, it was a glitch in the Matrix world but the children didn’t know that. Some of the characters like Neo and Trinity did appear (with both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their roles from the film trilogy) but the majority of the stories were separate from one another. They did have the consistent theme that they were based around the creation of the matrix itself and events from people within it, Love, Death + Robots does not have that feature as each world is different and unique.
All in all Love, Death + Robots is a fantastic series and I am very much looking forward to Season 2. I would also be more than happy to see some of the episodes turned into films or shows of their own. This is one of the strongest Thumbs Up I have every given, and I am only not giving it a 2 Thumbs Up because some episodes do drop the ball a bit.
9/10 – The occasional misstep, but by and large my advice is if you haven’t already...go and watch it, you will not be disappointed.
The second season in the Love, Death + Robots series features eight episodes and similarly to the Volume I has self-enclosed stories in a variety of different animation styles. The series was released in May 2021. Netflix have commissioned a Volume III which is due for release in 2022.
After the amazing Volume I I was eagerly awaiting the new episodes, now as I cannot really go through each episode I am going to do as I did before and talk generally about the series as a whole, and as a whole, it just is not as good as Volume I.
The animation style and voice acting are still amazing, and the computer generated portions can look so realistic that you honestly will not be sure if you are watching live action or not. The second episode titled Ice looks staggeringly good with its exaggerated animation style that is very reminiscent of some of the Animatrix shorts.
The problem with this volume is that unlike the majority of the previous volumes were incredible stories with a couple of missteps, here there are a couple of incredibly stories with more missteps. One of the episodes that comes to mind starts Michal B Jordan as an astronaut who is trapped in a room with a malfunctioning robot that he must outwit before it kills him. The animation is flawless but man-verses-malfunctioning robot is not exactly original and is simply a waste of the talent available.
The majority of the episodes in Volume I I can easily remember clearly, but the majority of the ones in Volume II are forgettable. Most of the stories in the first volume I would have loved to have been made into full movies but with the acceptation of Snow in the Desert there was so little potential for these stories to be expanded, which is a real shame.
Admittedly Volume I was going to be a tough act to follow and sadly Volume II does not fill the shoes the first one left behind. If Volume II had come first then I would probably have been kinder to it, but because Volume I was so good, and Volume II was only alright I was left disappointed.
The episodes are still decent enough but they just don’t compare favourably to Volume I. If you were a fan of the first volume then a couple of the episodes are on par with those in Volume I but I would advise you to lower your expectations. I will still give Volume II a Thumbs Up but it is a shakier Thumbs Up than it was before. The stories are lacklustre this time around and don’t seem to know what to do with the talent they have at their disposal.
7/10 – Still not a bad series but if you are new to these shows then watch Volume II first then check out the far superior Volume I. If you thought Volume I was excellent then my advice is lower your expectations and you might still get some enjoyment out of these episodes.