Co-created by Tim Miller and David Fincher, Love, Death & Robots returns to Netflix with a new anthology of sci-fi shorts that each try to bring something new and unique to the table. Where the first season featured 18 shorts, this season has a much shorter run with 8 shorts.
With only 8 featured shorts this time around, it seemed like there may be a lack of variety in the stories being told – but that’s not the case here with a great assortment of stories across a few different sub-genres. There’s a balance of horror, comedy, thriller and dramatic elements across each of the shorts, ensuring there’s something in it for everyone. The shorts are all still very adult in terms of the violence and sexual content, however they’re quite a bit more tame this time around. There isn’t as much grotesque or overly sexual content, which places more focus on the actual stories being told. It’s a nice shift that doesn’t impact what people expect from the tone of the anthology.
Of the 8 shorts in here, 5 of them hit the mark for me – delivering intriguing, original stories with great animation and character-focused journeys. The likes of Pop Squad and Snow in the Desert both set up these worlds that I’d love to spend more time in, and these characters who I feel like I understand after just a short time spent with them. There’s mystery, intrigue and depth to these shorts, doing a lot in a short amount of time. Pop Squad even benefits from the fantastic voice performance of Nolan North who plays the lead detective in the story.
Then there’s the charm of Automated Customer Service, which is a horror/comedy hybrid straight out of an episode of Black Mirror. It may seem like a familiar concept, but it’s very well executed. All Through the House is probably the most insane one in here. Whoever conjured up the story for this short is certainly insane, and I love it. The Tall Grass caps off the shorts that I enjoyed with a neat little horror/thriller that has the essence of Stephen King’s In the Tall Grass, a novella and 2019 film.
Of the shorts that didn’t make as much of an impact, the most disappointing was Life Hutch, especially since it boasts a good solo performance from Michael B Jordan. There’s some neat claustrophobic horror but not much to the story to really grab onto. Ice is the only short that utilises 2D animation and does look quite beautiful at times, it’s just not that interesting of a narrative and doesn’t have intriguing characters. Lastly, I just didn’t respond to The Drowned Giant. It’s the most unique in terms of tone, but I just couldn’t get on board with the poignant narrative it’s telling.
Now, where the variety of genres isn’t affected by the lower episode count, there’s no denying the variety of animation styles is impacted. Aside from Ice, which I mentioned features 2D animation, and perhaps The Tall Grass, which is heavily stylised, all of the other shorts feature 3D CG animation with varying levels of realism. There’s no doubting the fact that the 3D animation is absolutely breathtaking, but it is nice to have a bit more variety in an anthology.
In the end, Love, Death & Robots continues its run of shorts that expand the world of sci-fi storytelling through a variety of sub-genres and concepts. Not all of the shorts hit their mark, but the majority bring something unique to the table – whether that’s an intriguing world, compelling characters or effective horror. It’s not for everyone, but if you have an appreciation for the sci-fi genre and short film artform, you’ll find something to love in this season.