Love, Death, Robots Review (Season One, Netflix, 2019)

… is a collection of 18 animated short stories from top studios, including major game commercials, produced by online rental giant Netflix and directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club “). As I understand it, the idea of ​​creating the anthology was to bring together the works of the strongest animation artists and directors under one cover, united by the theme of passion, love, loneliness and despair, as well as futurism and technology, which are already beginning to irreversibly change our nature. This is a collection of very different, not always equal in semantic load, but very high quality cartoons of a wide variety of styles, filmed in a way that never will be “Pixar” or “Disney”: love from the name can be a wild and all-consuming passion, not at all embarrassed by nakedness, death turns into an unexpected sea of ​​blood and physical damage, and robots … even if they are not present in every work, but as a theme of the future, which we all latently fear, are felt even in the most mundane plots. Which, as a rule, pleasantly surprise with their unpredictability and, quite often, a sharp ending.

I will try to highlight those episodes that I liked more than others, and briefly, but without spoilers, tell about them.

“Sonny’s Edge” (episode 1/18) is a dark cyberpunk action movie about a woman fighter whose face is streaked with scars, who, together with her gang friends, offers her services to an influential rich man to fight in the arena of genetically modified monsters, mentally controlled by people. What is cruel entertainment for others is a matter of life for her, and not only because she wants to take revenge on those who disfigured her. The anthology’s opening short is reminiscent of Altered Carbon, Johnny Mnemonic and, unexpectedly, Pacific Rim (as if monsters were beating each other, not robots); the plot is simple, but twisted, the fights of the monsters are filmed and staged in such a way that they feel physically, and the potential lesbian scene ends so that you want to grab your head when everything turns upside down. Very cheerful start, 8/10.

“Three Robots” (episode 2/18) – nothing special, it’s just that all people died and three robots walk the streets and try to understand how these two-legged people lived without batteries with such brains at all – and what does it have to do with cats. A funny job, not without a bit of black humor. 6/10

“The Witness” (episode 3/18) is probably the most psychedelic work in this collection. An Asian girl accidentally witnesses a murder and runs away from a man who wants to tell her something, Acidic, absurd and confused – and at the same time stylish and cool. For a long time I tried to understand what I was looking at – a film, processed to the eyeballs with pseudo-Instagram filters for a cartoon, or a cartoon with such precise movements that you cannot distinguish from real ones. Technically, it’s great. In the sense – a little arthouse and a little PornHub. 7/10

“Suits” (episode 4/18) is the story of neighbor farmers who live with their families in rural areas, which from time to time are raided by insect-like monsters that appear from nowhere, for which in barns and garages of men (and one smoking granny ) there are always ready-made, massive exo-suits with machine guns, lasers and missiles – you have to protect your relatives. A small and simple-minded, but dramatic adventure cartoon, filmed in an unusual “twitchy” (like in puppet cartoons or in the recent “Spider-Man: Through the Universes”) manner, reminiscent of a mixture of “A Quiet Place” with “Aliens”. I liked this almost Disney cartoon about the battle with monsters – cool and at the same time sincere. 8/10

“Sucker of Souls” (episode 5/18) is a drawn archaeological thriller about an old scientist, a Korean prodigy and a bunch of tough fighters who went to excavate an old castle in Romania. Tough fighters are quite in place when it turns out that the scientist has found what he was looking for – the tomb of Vlad Tepes (Dracula), and the monster is quite alive. A cool, dynamic little film that fits in thirteen minutes what could be stretched for an hour. There are almost no unexpected twists, good genre work. 7/10.

“When Yogurt Took Over The World” (episode 6/18) – a small, like a glass of yogurt, a warning film about the dangers of genetic engineering and competition of biological species, especially when one of these types is not yogurt, and not as smart as he (and could fix the economy if they listened!). Very witty and funny, despite the fact that it is simple and without a double bottom under the lid (mm, yogurt). 7/10

“Beyond the Aquila Rift” (Episode 7/18) is very powerful. The crew of the freighter spacecraft prepares for a FTL jump, but when they wake up from suspended animation, it turns out that they are very lost and are on board a repair station, which the captain of the ship does not recognize. But on board is the woman he once loved – and still loves.

But how did she get here? What really happened? What is happening to them now? Very, very powerful work, both dramatically and visually (people are drawn well, very convincingly), reminiscent of both “Mass Effect” and “The Matrix”; an emotional story and a shocking ending that puts everything in its place. Best Anthology Episode, Delight and Shudder. 9/10.

“Good Hunting” (episode 8/18) – a hand-drawn animated story that begins as a Chinese epic about the struggle of an old warrior and his son with an insidious fox sorceress, and smoothly flows into a story about a strong, unbroken woman and justified revenge set in the scenery of Jules Verne’s steampunk. Nice and inventive, interesting subtext and unpredictability. The dialogues are not very good, but otherwise this work stands out from the others. 7.5 / 10.

“The Dump” (episode 9/18) – at the same time disgusting, creepy and very funny story of a homeless person, happily living in a house in a junkyard, to which an official came to evict. The cunning grandfather sets the condition: “I will only tell you one story, if it doesn’t impress me, then I’ll dump it, so be it.” And he begins: “We sat with a friend somehow, we were drinking …” The story will end without a friend, but what’s the difference, drunkenness and indifference – isn’t it wonderful? For a new dog! 7/10

“Shape-Shifters” (episode 10/18) – American soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan against the Taliban, and among them there are two soldiers who always stand in front of the detachment – they see sharply, they hardly take bullets and they are able to smell the enemy tens of meters away. Werewolves do not like colleagues, but the guys became friends and support each other in battle. Until the Taliban also have their own werewolves … An interesting military short film. Technically not as good as Beyond the Rift in the Eagle Nebula, but the photorealistic graphics are very complex. Good directing and competent cinematography, a simple story, a fairly modern subtext, terrible fights of monsters – not bad. 6/10.

“Helping Hand” (episode 11/18) – little “Gravity”. A woman astronaut arrives in a single-seat spacecraft like the Soyuz to the satellite to fix it, but the space debris damages the oxygen cylinder, takes her into outer space – and the girl will have to come up with something in the remaining fifteen minutes of her life if she wants to escape. A bit secondary (there was a film by Alfonso Cuaron, come on), but a good and surprisingly realistic fantasy cartoon. A very extreme and creepy, but plausible way of saving – my respect for the heroine and her self-sacrifice. This isn’t a spoiler, is it? 7.8 / 10

“Fish Night” (episode 12/18) – a surreal and poetic sketch about a father and son, whose car broke down in the desert and they had to spend the night in a place where times and eras, millions and millions of years, are intertwined. A very beautiful, bewitching and emotional, but almost plotless picture. 6.5 / 10

“Happy 13(episode 13/18) – a competent and competent fighter, where the focus is not on the combat operations of space warring parties themselves, but on the relationship of a woman pilot and her warship. The graphics are simply amazing, I can’t believe that the heroine is drawn (and she seems to be drawn ..?) Excellent work, another case when in 13 (ha) minutes a story fits in, which is as exciting and emotionally engaging as if it were was a long film. Genre, conditionally realistic in mood (for a fantastic setting) war cinema with an emotional story, 8/10.

“Zima Blue” (episode 14/18) – a surreal, trans-humanistic story, stylized with 60s graphics and expressive retro-futurism. The correspondent girl seeks an audience with the world-famous impressionist artist, obsessed with the color of turquoise on a cosmic scale, and he tells her his real story. Thoughtfully, expressively, a little sad. 7.3 / 10.

“Blind Spot” (episode 15/18) – Probably the most addictive-and-explosive in this collection. A group of crazy (and crookedly drawn) cyborg friends are chasing an armored train packed with deadly robots to steal a super-secret chip, while everything rattles and explodes, lasers shine and music of the eighties plays (to the films and cartoons of which this homage to Mad Max , “Judge Dredd”, “Robocop” and “The Terminator” and stylized). Cool cartoon, funny at the level of form. There is no content, one might say, but who needs it when there are lasers. 6.5 / 10

“Ice Age”(episode 16/18) is the only film in the anthology. A young married couple unearths an old refrigerator and discover a tiny mammoth. Digging a little deeper in the freezer, they discover a tiny civilization that is rapidly replacing the Paleolithic with the Middle Ages, and then with the scientific and technological revolution. It’s funny and even a little cute, but the potential of the story, it seems to me, was not even half used – in the short film by Neil Blomkamp (the author of the films “District 9”, “Elysium” and gorgeous short films by his Oats Studio) about a bored god who arranges floods and pestilences for people so that they did not get stupid prayers, it made more sense. 5.5 / 10

“Alternate Histories” (episode 17/18) – a funny advertisement for a non-existent mobile application, offering to see what it would be like if a hot-tempered mustachioed boy named Adolf died, say, not in 1945, but a little earlier. How would this affect history and who would have been the first person on the moon – Willie Brandt or Vladimir Putin? Urgently demand the continuation of “Abraham Lincoln shot first”! 6.5 / 10

“Secret War” (episode 18/18) – finally, one of the darkest and at the same time original things in the collection. World War II, Soviet Union. While the Red Army is fighting the Nazis at Stalingrad, a detachment of partisans somewhere in Siberia is waging a war with an enemy even more terrible than the Third Reich: monsters carving out entire villages and hiding in caves … Again, as far as possible within the format, a large and photorealistic “movie” that uses the popular trope “soldiers of the real past VS a fantastic enemy” and uses the non-trivial entourage of wild, snow-covered country Russia. It turns out quite interesting: the heroes, of course, are not revealed at all, I would like to know more about the past of such characters as the timid Buryat or the young boy who can play the balalaika, and the head of the squad, Comrade Major, in fact, is also a character-function. And the dialogues are frankly strained. But despite all this – damn it – it’s really cool. There is something real about it. Such … dear. Landscapes, amazing, fabulous. The atmosphere, a little bit reminiscent of a dark fairy tale. And the very origin of the monsters with which the partisans are fighting – it lacks fantasy, some kind of epic scope. For the most part, this is another story of the “A handful of brave men fighting carnivorous monsters with no chance of victory” pattern that has appeared at least twice on the topic level in this almanac in one way or another. But still, nevertheless … here the short-length format turned out to be too small for the story. A full-length meter is requested. Can we ever see something like that in a movie? Hope so. 8/10

Final rating:


Awesome, Complex, Diverse

An excellent collection of multi-genre animation films, united for the most part by fantastic entourage, plots developing in an unexpected direction, beautiful (and varied) pictures, an experimental almanac of animated films, which, if not unambiguously liked by everyone, will definitely interest at least a few stories.