Don't expect electric sheep in this dream of robot fever.
This is a review without spoiler of the new anthology of Netflix, Love, Death & Robots, which is now streamed on Netflix.
When Tim Miller and David Fincher started to create Love, Death & Robots, says Fincher, they just wanted to create something "beautiful".
The mission has been accomplished. The new series of Netflix anthologies ̵
The shorts have no unified theme or message – some are obscure and nihilistic, others poetic and hopeful, others still surreal or openly comical – but there are not two equal short films, using animation teams and studios from all over the world, including Digic Pictures of Hungary (which recently worked on the film sequences of Destiny 2 and the trailer for Rainbow Six Siege by Ubisoft), the France Unit Image (God of War, Beyond Good and Evil 2), all image of Platige in Poland (Metro Exodus, Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider), The Reddog Culture House of Korea (Overwatch, Voltron: Legendary Defender) and Miller's Blur Studio based on LA (Far Cry 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider ), to name a few.
Six of the short films use photo-real CG and motion capture work, which occasionally plays them and extends game movies or trailer films – but they're all aesthetically stunning, even if they can't overcome the mysterious valley.
The rest uses stylized techniques of CG, rotoscoping, 2D or mixed techniques, and for the most part, they are the most traditionally animated short films that really give a punch, perhaps because photo-real CGI is becoming so ubiquitous, especially in the games.
Miller and Fincher said they let the stories dictate how each short film was animated, and the CG shorts are certainly the most ambitious in terms of scale, with "The Secret War" showing the desperate struggle of an army against grotesque monsters in the Siberian forest, and "Sonnie's Edge" which shows an elaborate battle of gladiator monsters. But there is something clinical about these pieces that can keep viewers at a distance – the most effective of the real short films is "Helping Hand", a claustrophobic chamber piece that cleverly accelerates the tension to let you squirm on the seat without ever getting tired he is welcome.
"The Witness", directed and written by the artist Alberto Mielgo, is undoubtedly the most visually surprising and inventive of the group – with its nervous composition and graphic action, playing as Into the Spider-Verse meets a music video by Marilyn Manson, although it contrasts with some questionable narrative nodes to ensure that the female protagonist is basically naked for most of the action. (A useless superfluous, given the fascinating twists and turns of the story, but probably not something unpleasant for many viewers.)
But to call Love, Death & Robots for free is redundant, because it seems to be the whole point – Miller and Fincher were clearly eager to test the boundaries of the medium and create something that could never be found in a mainstream multiplex or network television, with buckets of blood, copious nudity (both male and female), and elaborate violence. This is a storytelling that goes up to eleven, and it will soon become clear if a particular short is your cup of tea – fortunately, you will only have to wait a few minutes to see something completely different, if it is not.
But much like Black Mirror, one viewer's garbage has the potential to be another's treasure, and the box of possibility chocolates means that if one were to overeat the entire selection over three hours (like your reviewer did), or just two or three short films, it's unlikely you'll get bored and you're sure to come out with at least a couple of stories that you deeply love.
If your tastes are aligned with mine, the most intimate plots seem the most inclined to be with you (but if you love monsters and epic battle scenes, you will still find your interests well represented). The skillful "Zima Blue" is a surprisingly touching brooding on the meaning of life, presented with a distinctive design, in large letters, while "Fish Night", based on a story by the author Joe Lansdale, is a journey in the existential desert with an amazing use of color and imagination. A trio of comic stories – the clever "Three Robots", the succinct "When The Yogurt Thook Over" and more and more ridiculous "Alternate Histories", all directed by Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres in completely different styles – are clear segments, on display the format flexibility.
While Love, Death & Robots has a broad design purpose – its only aspiration is to explore interesting stories of all science fiction, fantasy, horror and comic spectrum – it would be interesting to see what a more cohesive and focused collection would look like. There are some randomly recurring elements (cats, tits and human-animal hybrids between them) but considering what a wide range of genres and styles the anthology presents, the possibilities are endless, so it would be easy to imagine a season focused entirely on a aspect of the project title (death and robots are both in constant supply here, but love, not so much) or a particular genre. Still, this is a mixture of fascinating stories and compelling images, and it is a journey that should prove useful to any fan of the genre who is looking for a deviation from reality.