Netflix’s Love, Death, and Robots: Volume 3 Review
Netflix’s visionary animated anthology series Love, Death, & Robots returns with another volume of innovative and visually immaculate original stories.
With its third volume, Love, Death, & Robots delivers nine more genre-bending stories that expand and elevate what’s possible for the series. For the first time, there isn’t a live action short in the mix, so the animation takes full control and it’s really beautiful. Polygon Pictures’ “The Very Pulse of the Machine” instantly stands out and it’s not just because it doesn’t feature CG animation, which is a staple in this series. The hallucinatory and psychedelic visuals of an astronaut’s reality being blurred as she treks across a desolate planet is mind-melting in the best way possible. It’s a colorful visual feast that’s constantly trippy and dazzling to look at and even though you can’t help but wish some of these stories wouldn’t always lean into CG animation, it’s tough to hate on it because it’s just so amazing to look at.
The CG animation from studios like Blur and pinkman.tv continue to transcend with the vividly detailed worlds and characters they create. “Jibaro” ends up being another wild and distorted aesthetic treat from pinkman.tv as they mix their signature brand of hyper-realistic visuals with mind-bending fantasy excellently through a duel between a deaf knight and a dangerous siren that emerges from a lake. It’s even wilder than their series debut “The Witness” back in Volume 1 and while “Jibaro” can be more style than substance making it tough to follow, it’s undoubtedly a memorable experience full of hypnotizing imagery and action.
As for Blur, they deliver two stunningly animated stories with aesthetics so realistic they could nearly be considered live action. “Bad Traveling” takes viewers into a horror-driven tale of betrayal and morality on a stormy ship ride through the sea after a crew is held captive by a gigantic crab that’s come aboard their ship. The character designs are nearly lifelike and the atmosphere that Blur creates is incredibly unique and intense. The dark and stormy environment feels perfect for “Bad Traveling’s” palpable intensity and suspicion that keeps you hooked through its twisty narrative. Not to mention, the short’s central crustacean is the stuff of nightmares and can be a vicious antagonist full of surprises.
Blur’s other short “Swarm” is an intriguing sci-fi cautionary tale of humanity’s foolhardy quest for power in the universe as two human scientists’ dreams of creating a subservient alien army with a mysterious race known as the Swarm become nightmares. Overall, “Swarm” is a familiar tale human superiority becoming humanity’s undoing against an alien force, but its amazing looking animation creates a great mix of fantasy and sci-fi while eventually leaning into horror. “Swarm” honestly has some good Avatar vibes in its looks and features some noteworthy talent that elevates its experience. Both of Blur’s shorts actually have some notable names and Volume 3, as a whole, has a much more famous cast and crew than past volumes.
Behind the camera, Deadpool director Tim Miller helms “Swarm” while fellow producer and legendary director David Fincher steps into a directing role for the first time in the series with “Bad Traveling.” In front of the camera, there’s a lengthy list of talented actors like Rosario Dawson, Joel McHale, Troy Baker, Joe Manganiello, Christian Serratos, Dan Stevens, Jai Courtney, Seth Green, Craig Ferguson, and countless others. Volume 3 easily has the most star-studded cast, and it gives this volume a strong cinematic feel, especially when it comes to “In Vaulted Halls Entombed.”
While watching “In Vaulted Halls Entombed,” you can help but feel like you’re almost playing through a Supermassive Dark Pictures game because of its instantly recognizable cast and strong horror. It’s actually impressive how “In Vaulted Halls Entombed” has such a realistic look to its characters and world and it makes its cave-dwelling creatures absolutely horrifying. Seriously, there’s some messed up and disturbing horror moments in “In Vaulted Halls Entombed,” especially the ending, that horror fans will eat up, but it’s a shame that it’s one of the shorts in this volume that feels all too familiar in the series as a whole.
After watching Volume 3, it’s tough not to feel like Love, Death, and Robots does feature repetitive story frameworks and characters. For instance, the whole idea of stories having horror-driven twist endings is getting a little old and it does feel like the series likes to use military characters having their mission go wrong a little too often. The series does change out its pieces enough to keep the stories fresh, but certain story and character patterns are starting to develop, and it feels like an unnecessary limitation for the series.
It would even be nice to see the series drift a little further from horror since Volume 3’s darkly comedic episodes are some of its best. The surprisingly gruesome war that takes place in “Mason’s Rats” is both jaw-dropping and pretty hilarious. Plus, the heartwarming ending to the growing conflict between Scottish farmer Mason (voiced by Ferguson) and a swarm of tough-willed rats sticks with you in a good way. “Kill Team Kill” is a great animated action comedy that utilizes its cast well and delivers some hilariously bloody carnage. “Night of the Mini Dead” is not only a fitting nod to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, but also takes viewers into a very funny mini zombie outbreak that results in one of the series’ funniest episodes. Also, fans will be delighted to see the iconic trio of sightseeing robots from Volume 1 return in a new story that might not be as gut-busting as the original but is a welcomed return.
Although it should start to break away from its repetitive storytelling and animation patterns, Love, Death, and Robots’ latest volume continues to do what the series does best – provide breathtaking animation and stories that hit a wide range of emotions.