Mini-Review: Love, Death & Robots (1-10)

Love, Death & Robots is a collection of animated short stories (5 to 10 minutes) of genre fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror), just released on Netflix this week.

Since the episodes are so short, it was easy to binge several in one sitting. Over on the dying Google+, I commented that this resulted in watching more male gaze filming than I have allowed myself to in a long time. Here are my spoiler-free mini-reviews for the episodes I have seen. When I say “spoiler-free” I mean that I only give away as much as you have in the episode title and pitch. (Spoilers may be discussed in comments below, however.)

1. Sonnie’s Edge: Writing-wise, one of the better ones but still predictable and still mostly an excuse for gory monster violence. Feels like a cut scene in a video game about fighting monsters. Diversity: token. Male Gaze Factor (MGF): 2/5. Uses violence against a woman as her sole motivator.

2. Three Robots: Funniest and most relatable one. Good voice talent, endearing animation style. Dialogue is good, plot is somewhat predictable but cute. MGF: 0/5 (n/a).

3. The Witness: Very predictable plot. Sets are eye-catching, animation is pretty good if videogame-y. Diversity: exploitive, token use. MGF factor 5/5. Violence against a woman is the driving motivation, lots of gratuitous and graphic exposure designed for the male gaze.

4.. Suits: Episode I most want to turn into a role-playing game. Trope-y but relatable characters, familiar animation style, good voice talent. Plot points and ending are predictable, but well done. Diversity: modest. MGF: 1/5, good job here.

5. Sucker of Souls: Good voice talent, characters I rather enjoyed despite their obvious flaws and tropes, fairly ridiculous monster, very gory, predictable plot. Diversity: token. MGF: 1.5/5. Only one female character and ~5 males IIRC (not counting monster).

6. When the Yogourt Took Over: More of a concept, contained in the title, than a story. Not enough there to make an actual episode. Cartoon animation style. MGF not really applicable. Diversity: didn’t notice. This was definitely vanilla yogourt.

7. Beyond the Aquila Rift: Another videogame cut scene episode. Could have been cut by a third or half and conveyed the exact same plot, another trope-laden one. Diversity: token. MGF: 4/5, and watching CGI sex made me think of Team America‘s hot puppet-on-puppet action. Plot centers around a female character trying to please a male one.

8. Good Hunting: Pleasant animation style, good voice talent, least predictable plot of the bunch. Diversity: most characters are Chinese, all bad ones are European. MGF: 3.5/5. Violence against women is the plot driver.

9. The Dump: Animation is a cross of CGI and the “Captain Sternn” segment of Heavy Metal. Predictable plot, characters are all men (all white IIRC). MGF 3/5 for derogatory language, gratuitous crassness, and on-screen masturbation.

10. Shapeshifters: Another videogame cut scene. Not so much a plot as a concept pitch. Diversity: minimal. MGF: 2/5, mostly consisting of mindset and language since this is pretty much all about men.

I didn’t watch #11 “Helping Hand” about a woman who has to cut off her own limb to survive, but Edmund did and I coud hear the dialogue, which largely consisted of her screams of pain.

In general, the show feels like an attempt at reviving Heavy Metal but without the cool soundtrack. Most episodes feel like pitches or demo reels rather than actual short stories. The animation varies from obnoxious to attractive. We make several trips through the uncanny valley. The voice talent is mostly good or very good. Diversity is not the strong suit, neither for gender nor pigmentation nor culture nor ability.

For a different point of view, here is another review over on Collider, mostly discussing the quality and styles of animation.

One thought on “Mini-Review: Love, Death & Robots (1-10)

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