Ben’s Breakdown | “Love, Death & Robots”

It’s sometime in the future, and we’re witnessing an interesting world filled with magic, monsters, robots, and even murder. Welcome to Love, Death & Robots where each episode average 17 minutes and tell standalone stories that have nothing connected them except that they’re animated, and the world isn’t entirely a nice place.

Sonnie’s Edge

Welcome to the world of “beastie” fights. The beasts are terrifying and deadly, but instead of creating mayhem on the population they are controlled telepathically by a single user, while another on the team can control some of the armaments with technology. It is here we meet Sonnie who is undefeated with her beastie. She meets an odd gentleman who is willing to pay her handsomely if she has her beastie take a dive. Naturally Sonnie won’t have anything to do with that, but not for the reasons that most people think. However does she have what it takes to beat the champ, and what drives her to take part in the fights?

From the start this episode looked absolutely amazing with its animation. We are shown this incredible city skyline that looked photo-realistic, and yet there is a slimy underbelly to this futuristic place. We can see that even with a city that has all the appearances of being utopian can be quite the opposite. Sonnie’s own personal story underlines the corruption and evil that still lurks in men’s hearts. The beasties also look pretty good especially when they engage each other in battle. At times looks like something out of a video game, while at other times it looked like something out of a proper monster film. The voice acting is pretty solid all the way through. The only drawback is there is barely any backstory to help fill in any gaps about this world we’re being shown. We do get some filler regarding Sonnie, but it still feels a bit out of context without more information regarding this world and her beastie.

Three Robots

Humanity has died out on earth. All that is left of people are their skeletal remains that are littered all over in the now empty cities that are grown over with vegetation. It is here we meet three robots that appear to be engaged in some sort of sightseeing tour. Their shared experience finds them in an old diner where they discuss how ineffective humans are when it comes to “refueling,” and even come across a colony of cats, who apparently have not died out alongside humanity.

This short episode was hilarious from beginning to end, and these three robots are a scream, starting with the short K-VRC that evolved from initially being a baby monitor. Then there is XBOT 4000, which looks like it could have evolved from the old X-Box system, although XBOT doesn’t feel any sense of kinship when they find such a gaming system. He also has a sassy attitude suggesting that he sort of pushed the others into the walking portion of the tour. He has no sign of how things are the way they are so he tries to fill in the gaps all on his own. As for the artistic design, XBot 4000 is a tall robot with a head ornament that could only be described as a mow hawk, However the real treat is the third of the three robots, who is clearly meant to be the descendant of Alexa, and here she looks like a mutated metronome. The information they come across might be of better use and understanding if they had some primer on humans. However, as amusing as this episode is, it does take one jab against people in relation to the environment, for it was our abuse of our world that brought about humanity’s destruction. Still it’s glossed over quickly and just in time for one final surprising revelation that might be considered part of humanity’s legacy.

The Witness   

There is a woman who is getting dressed as part of her job. However she is quite distracted by some yelling going on. It’s coming from the neighboring hi-rise building and she sees what appears to be some man killing a woman. Unfortunately this man catches her looking in on him from across the street, which terrifies her and she ends up going on the run to try to escape him. After she has tried to elude him she finds herself cornered by him in his very apartment, only to discover that her fate is closely connected to hers.

This was the strangest of the three episodes so far. It was written by the series creator Tim Miller, but there is no real narrative going on here. Again the CGI animation is strikingly beautiful here, which lends itself to a feeling of Blade Runner with the design of this city, but there is no proper story here. Girl witnesses murder, girl tries to get away, only she can’t get away in the way that she hopes for. It’s a very interesting presentation, but feels like a proof of concept.

This series is created by Tim Miller, but being something of an anthology I feel more like I’m watching a film festival with differing styles of animation as well as genres from episode to episode. There are a total of 18 of these stories, so having only watched 3 so far it’s safe to assume that I have only begun to scratch the surface. Perhaps a greater connecting story element is to reveal itself (much like Weird City), but for now it’s just a collection of standalone animated shorts. These are not for young children as the violence in some of these is pretty graphic, as well as is some of the subject matter. Nevertheless, Netflix has once again shown some incredible ingenuity and originality in bringing Love, Death & Robots to its lineup of content.

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