Mini-Review: Love, Death & Robots (11-18)

Lucky 13

We finally watched the rest of Love, Death & Robots, a collection of animated short stories of genre fiction on Netflix. I recently reviewed (and criticized) the earlier episodes here.

11. Helping Hand: Photo-realistic animation, well done, very credible. Actually has a plot complete with resolution. Diversity: the only visible character reads as a white woman. Male Gaze Factor (MGF): 1/5. Unfortunately, it’s about a woman who has to cut off her own limb to survive. She is capable, determined, smart — but we hear extensive screams of horrific pain. I’ve noticed that the soundtrack of a lot of prominent digital games feature a lot of women screaming in terror and pain, and it hits me viscerally, which I assume is the point.

12. Fish Night: Beautiful classic-style animation, enjoyable to watch. Plot: Fishtail ending, as we’d say in French. Diversity: None, the characters are two white guys. MGF: 1/5. No women at all, but at least no gross discussion of women.

13. Lucky 13: Realistic-looking animation. With the main character, Lt. “Cutter” Colby, we pretty much emerge from the uncanny valley; she is well animated, looks real and reminded me of actress Samira Wiley… who, it turns out, voices the character. The animation of other characters looks stiffer, less realistic. There is a good deal of fighting over rocky planets, reminding me of 3:16… Diversity: Thumbs up; characters and voice actors are of different ethnicities and genders. MGF: 0/5.

14. Zima Blue: Kind of interesting setup; angular and abstract style of animation, a bit like Samurai Jack or Batman: The Animated Series; some of it is very beautiful. The plot is, eh, okay. Diversity: Voiced characters read as a black man and a white, possibly Latina woman, and there is one silent but important black woman, so full marks. MGF: 0/5.

15. Blind Spot: The animation style reminds me of Borderlands 2 meets anime. I thought the plot, if I can call it that, was boring. Diversity: The characters are heavily modified cyborgs but read as 3 white men, one white woman and one non-gendered robot to me. MGF: 2/5 for crass comments.

16. Ice Age: A pleasant mix of live-action and animation. Cute setup and engaging mystery but no denouement. Diversity: A white woman and a white man. MGF: 0/5.

17. Alternate Histories: Very cartoony animation, looking somewhat like South Park in a more pastel colour palette. Great idea but, unfortunately, despite being based on a John Scalzi story it did not make me laugh at all. Diversity: Not really. MGF: Eh, also not really applicable.

18. The Secret War: Photo-realistic animation; uses that telephoto style you see in many first-person shooters a little too much for my preference, but otherwise impressive. Most characters look very close to “live.” Plot: got me reasonably interested in the characters, but like most episodes in the series, ends abruptly. Diversity: Characters come from all over the USSR (it’s set during World War II), but that still means mostly white and at least one Asian. MGF: 3/5 because there is only one glimpse of an identifiably female character; she gets no lines, and is only shown naked, tortured, and eviscerated. There are other mangled bodies aplenty but most are unidentifiable because they’re wearing heavy winter gear. No other character is shown naked. And of course the WWII-era Soviet army would have been a reasonable setting to show some female snipers, for example.

So that’s it for season 1. This batch was generally more interesting to me than the earlier episodes, and several showed women in better roles. Lucky 13 was my overall favourite.

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