In the first two seasons Love, Death and Robots has lived up to its name by offering countless animated shorts that span sci-fi and horror – and occasionally both at the same time. It was bloody and visceral, but also frequently bumpy. For every clever treatise on the nature of mankind, there was a carnage that was bloody and shocking, and little else. But with Volume 3 we get arguably the strongest collection yet: nine genre shorts with no weak link between them.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about season three is how varied the short films are, ranging in length from seven to 21 minutes. My personal favorite is The pulse of the machinedirected by Emily Dean, which follows an astronaut stranded on Jupiter’s moon Io. As she lugs the body of a dead colleague back to safety through a desolate landscape, she begins to hallucinate…probably. It could be the drugs keeping them alive, or it could be this moebius-inspired planet that speaks directly to her. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful to look at and ends on a particularly poetic note.
Other highlights include David Finchers Bad travel, a terrifying tale about a group of sailors who are approached by a giant hungry crab that forces them to reevaluate their priorities. Not only is it notable for its moral dilemmas, but also for the chilling realism with which it portrays its monsters and guts. It’s the stuff of nightmares. Similar, JibaroFrom director Alberto Mielgo, is a terrifying vision in which a deaf knight watches his entire platoon be killed by a golden siren before the two clash in a disorienting, wordless battle. swarm imagine what would happen if humans tried to enslave a peaceful race of alien bugs. Spoilers: It’s not going well.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about volume three Love, Death and Robots is that even the seemingly generic stories turn out to be interesting. The Token Zombie Short Film – Night of the Mini Deaddirected by Robert Bisi and Andy Lyon – takes a bird’s-eye view of an undead apocalypse and features an accelerated version of events with an adorable art style that makes it look like one star ship spin off. It’s almost like a time-lapse of our demise at the hands of zombies. And then there are two stories that start with a group of armed soldiers exploring some mountains – but the two go in very different directions. Kill team killby director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, is a gleefully grotesque battle involving a mecha bear during buried in vaulted halls, directed by Jerome Chen, starts very call of Duty before turning in return.
Volume three even adds continuity to the anthology series with the return of the three robots, once again traveling through the remains of humanity to find out who we were inside exit strategies, directed by Patrick Osborne. This time they focus on our apocalyptic havens, from hardcore survival camps and oil tankers converted into playgrounds for tech billionaires, to underground bunkers for the political elite. It’s dark and hilarious, and ends with the important realization that “people really are the worst.”
There isn’t necessarily a consistent line that connects the nine films, aside from the fact that they are all animated shorts that explore sci-fi and horror. Some are deep blood and some are deep reflections on the future of humanity – and some are both. But that connective tissue isn’t really necessary here when each of the shorts is so different and interesting. Yes, you get a lot of death and robots (and a little love). But the standout thing about volume three is that there aren’t any standouts: here are nine excellent genre films, each with a very different feel. Humanity may be the worst, but at least we can do some cool stuff.
Volume 3 of Love, Death and Robots now streaming on Netflix.