‘Love Death + Robots’ Is a Short but Riotous Romp Through the Apocalypse

To Lacie, thanks for the suggestion

The anthology series succinctly titled Love Death + Robots (LDR) requires a little bit of context to fully appreciate. Back in 1981, there was an animated anthology movie released called Heavy Metal. It was based on the dark fantasy adult magazine by the same name, was produced by said magazine’s publisher, and featured a heavy metal soundtrack that was released simultaneously. Though the film received a lukewarm reception from critics, it’s become something of a cult classic and is notable for moving American animation in a more R-rated direction. A sequel by the name of Heavy Metal 2000 was eventually released. It was not well-received.

In 2008, there were talks of a reboot of the original film with directors David Fincher and Tim Miller involved in some capacity. Subsequently in 2011, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez announced that he had purchased the film rights. As of this writing, that production is in limbo. It seems that LDR is largely inspired by what Fincher and Miller had created before Rodriguez bought the property, an anthology of shorts more science fiction in nature vice Heavy Metal’s fantasy themes. The general premise feels like Miller, as creator, sat down in a conference with all the other directors and said, “Future dystopia…and…go!”

Keep in mind that this animated anthology is not your dad’s Bugs Bunny. Heck, it’s not even Family Guy. There’s gratuitous nudity, blood and gore, and flagrant language. That said, the animation is often outstanding. There were times when I couldn’t tell that the CGI wasn’t real life. In fact, when Topher Grace stepped into one short, I wasn’t initially convinced he was flesh and blood (he was). Many of the episodes were great fun as well in spite of, or perhaps because of, the nudity and gore. My eyes were glued to the screen a number of times when scenes were just too dazzlingly displayed to look away or I didn’t miss what would happen next.

Though many of the episodes are amazing and sometimes emotional, there are others that are either forgettable or nearly pointless. One episode uses a concept that was better-executed by the Futurama episode “Godfellas”. Still another has a woman running around naked for nearly the entire short. I get the symbolism of her being defenseless, but a lot of the violence toward women and the full-frontal nudity of both sexes throughout the series feels like it’s just inserted for shock value instead of serving the story. The numerous F-bombs also get a little irritating. I curse like a sailor myself, but using the word constantly makes a script sound lazy. I mean, there are a bevy of curse words out there besides just the one.

Love Death + Robots is a very mixed bag with some outstanding episodes–Three Robots, Zima Blue, Lucky 13–and others that are just barely worth watching–Blindspot, Sucker of Souls, The Witness. Generally speaking, this show feels perfect for the YouTube generation; Black Mirror or Aeon Flux-level concepts in short, bite-sized chunks. But its length is definitely in its favor, as what makes this show worth watching is the fact that all the shorts together are only around 3.5 hours, and for that amount of time, any viewer will be thoroughly entertained.

Score: 4 out of 5

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