Review: Love, Death & Robots

Image Source: Digital Spy

Love, Death & Robots is a 2019 anthology series from Netflix created by Tim Miller. It features eighteen different science fiction stories each developed by a different cast and crew. Episodes never exceed twenty minutes, and some get as short as six minutes. The series features cinema legend David Fincher as an executive producer, as Love, Death & Robots is a reimagining of a planned sequel for Fincher and Miller’s 1981 film Heavy Metal. Fincher is not involved in the production of any of these episodes, which is unfortunate, because he would add some much-needed inspiration to this show. Robots, as I see it, is a disorganized, vapid, hit-or-miss show with mostly misses.

The show isn’t completely detestable. It has a unique premise; each episode uses a different style of animation, ranging from looking like a Triple-A video game to an authentic Japanese anime, and I respect the experimentation, considering every single episode is visually staggering.

But that’s about the only reason I endured Love, Death & Robots. The first three episodes, “Sonnie’s Edge,” “Three Robots,” and “The Witness” are not only some of the worst in the series, but they leave a horrible taste in the mouth of anyone planning to continue watching, revealing Robots’ love for infuriatingly unoriginal plot twists and poor dialogue. “Three Robots” is especially enraging, considering the other two have very little dialogue and are mostly just action episodes dedicated to showing you the show’s very large animation budget, but “Three Robots” is a nauseating attempt at satire and features one of the least subtle examples of plainly stating your theme I’ve ever seen.

My impression of Love, Death & Robots was that each episode would be a bit like poetry. A good science fiction anthology series should provide some concise, intriguing critique on humanity or some portrait of the future. But Robots seems more interested in making seemingly unfinished, definitely unrealized ideas for stories with no real substance, and the episodes that might have had some kind of potential are usually so awash in unnecessarily excessive violence or sexual content anyway that they’re just as unenjoyable as any other episode.

Netflix seems to have struck a chord with audiences with Love, Death & Robots, but I can’t think of a single truly memorable moment from the series. I’m a firm believer in the theory that just because something is violent or adult doesn’t make it automatically compelling, and, other than visuals, this show really has nothing going for it. Some of the episodes I actually enjoyed include “Zima Blue” and “Ice Age,” and are both very abstract, genuinely interesting, and a representation of the potential this show could have had. But other than that, each episode is either forgettable, like “Blindspot,” or so lacking in substance or originality that it’s almost maddening, like “Fish Night,” “Shape-Shifters,” or “Three Robots.”

Love, Death & Robots is a jumbled mess of partial ideas that feel like they were written in the same time it takes to watch the episode. With a lack of any unifying theme, style, or idea, and without much standout, quality material, will anyone remember Love, Death & Robots? I don’t believe so.