LOVE, DEATH AND ROBOTS: VOLUME 3 REVIEW
For every season (or Volume, in this case) of Netflix’s Love, Death and Robots I like to review each episode and rank them from worst to best. This is entirely my own opinion and I know not everyone will agree with my critique. Every episode will hit everyone differently, and I hope our differences can spark a discussion about this amazing animated anthology.
I have tried my best to avoid spoilers by giving each episode a very brief synopsis but if you haven’t watched Volume 3 of Love, Death and Robots maybe do so before reading my review. Alternatively, use my ranking list to decide which episodes you would like to dip in to or which episodes to avoid (HINT: none of them! They’re all worth watching!)
#9 In Vaulted Halls Entombed (Episode 8)
In this military horror a team of soldiers are ambushed by a swarm of ravenous bugs while on a rescue mission in the desert. From a visual point-of-view this episode is outstanding and has the most realistic aesthetic but unfortunately the good looks are not enough to carry its boring, predictable plot. The episode as a whole radiated influences from Doom and Resident Evil and the premise of In Vaulted Halls Entombed would make for an excellent videogame.
#8 Jibaro (Episode 9)
In this trippy fantasy a deaf knight survives the attack of a siren when his cavalry unexpectedly stumble upon her river. With his comrades dead, the knight attempts to escape the siren as she pursues him through the forest. Although the story is great there’s something amiss with the animation. Perhaps it’s intentional in order to increase the audience’s unease but characters jerk around like puppets on strings, and most of the fluid simulations and cloth simulations look almost broken, as if they were chosen on purpose because of how imperfect they were. Although a somewhat uncomfortable episode, it must be commended how much character development there is between two characters who cannot communicate with one another.
#7 Night of the Mini Dead (Episode 4)
Told from a top-down view and told at twice the speed, Night of the Mini Dead is a comedic take on the zombie apocalypse. The story might be a tired one but its charm is all in its presentation. Imagine one of those Christmas village dioramas has come to life but God accidentally left the fast-forward setting left on, resulting in a high-octane descent into panic and destruction at a tabletop scale. The whole episode is roughly 5 minutes, which quite fittingly makes it the one with the shortest runtime.
#6 The Very Pulse of the Machine (Episode 3)
Two astronauts crash their buggy on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons. One of the astronauts sadly perishes in the crash. The survivor, Kivelson, has her oxygen supply damaged and the only way to survive is to drag her partner’s corpse behind her so she can syphon off the oxygen. Due to an injury sustained in the crash, Kivelson resorts to painkillers, whereupon she goes on a psychedelic spiritual journey. It’s open to interpretation whether or not she’s hallucinating (which Kivelson herself even acknowledges) so it’s ultimately up to the viewer where her journey finally takes her. The Very Pulse of the Machine will be favoured by those who appreciate philosophy over action and comedy.
#5 Mason’s Rats (Episode 7)
Set in Scotland, farmer Mason struggles to keep a weaponised tribe of intelligent rats out of his barn and asks for assistance from an extermination tech giant. It’s an absurd comedy about the height of human technology being used against rodents with bows and arrows. It’s a Pixar story with Game of Thrones level of violence, and if Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is your favourite movie you will no doubt appreciate the similarities the tribe of rats have with the Ewoks. Mason’s Rats is short, sweet and a lot of fun.
#4 Swarm (Episode 6)
Set in a diplomatic utopic future where aliens and humans live in galactic harmony, Swarm feels like a love letter to Star Wars, Mass Effect and Avatar. Dr Afriel joins Dr Mieny inside the Swarm; a self-sustaining alien insect colony out in space. Dr Afriel’s motives straddle an ethical boundary so it’s up to the audience if his intentions are pure or not. There’s a sense of irony about two black scientists debating the pros and cons of potentially enslaving an alien nation. The subject matter isn’t explicitly approached but Swarm has the potential to do so. The plot twist will undeniably leave you begging for more. If there is one episode from Volume 3 that warrants a sequel it’s definitely this one.
#3 Kill Team Kill (Episode 5)
Kill Team Kill follows a team of elite soldiers taking down a relentless cyborg grizzly bear. This feels like a homage to Predator and Terminator but with James Gunn’s witty writing that we’ve all come to love from Guardians of the Galaxy and the Peacemaker TV show. It was a total surprise that when the credits rolled James Gunn had nothing to do with this! The animation echoed the likes of 80s children cartoon shows like G. I Joe (which gets a quick mention) but it’s definitely not suitable for the kiddies as it’s full of adult jokes, bad language and loads of gore.
#2 Three Robots: Exit Strategies (Episode 1)
A sequel (or possibly a retcon) to Volume 1 Episode 2, Exit Strategies is a cautionary tale seen through the eyes of advanced machines. Three robot tourists visit Earth after Armageddon and go on a historical tour of sorts, discovering and discussing the numerous ways humanity wiped themselves out. It’s a comedic retrospective on our current predicaments such as global warming, religious cults and wealth disparity. Although mankind’s deficiency is played up for laughs the episode ends on a sombre note that might leave you reconsidering your own impact on the planet.
#1 Bad Travelling (Episode 2)
Directed by David Fincher, who started Love, Death and Robots in 2019, this nautical sea-faring horror follows the crew of a hunting ship on an alien planet who are held hostage by a giant talking crustacean hiding in the ship’s hold. It’s basically Pirates of the Caribbean meets Alien, and it’s absolutely captivating. There are a couple of stand-out action sequences that would be impossible to do with traditional cameras, and Bad Travelling highlights the capabilities of modern animation by showcasing those action scenes for us. Truth be told, this episode doesn’t have a strong opening (patience is a virtue, after all) but the pacing, the writing and the animation combine to bring a gripping story about trust, loyalty and survival.
All three volumes of Love, Death and Robots are available on Netflix RIGHT NOW!