Sunday, April 7, 2019

Lilith Likes to Watch - Animated April Part 1 - Love, Death & Robots

Welcome to Animated April! where we talk about notable adult animated films for the month....First up, because the algorithm demands it....LOVE, DEATH + ROBOTS

Title: LOVE, DEATH + ROBOTS
Year: 2019
Starring: Topher Grace, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Nolan North, Samira Wiley
Director: Many
Synopsis: A collection of animated short stories that span various genres including science fiction, fantasy, horror and comedy. - Via IMDB
Why it is Notable: A Netflix exclusive animated anthology for adults brought to us by Tim Miller and David Fincher.

"Show me what you got, big boy."

Porn is the mother of invention. We make it, then immediately wonder how we can have sex with it, or watch it have sex. Millions of dollars is poured into tech, just to watch 1s and 0s fuck, or moving drawings fuck, breathing life to fetishes all across the world.

LOVE, DEATH + ROBOTS is an anthology of 18 animated stories ranging from the sexy, to the horrific, to the amusing. Boobs jiggle, guns blast, and animals do battle. And, boy, is it divisive.

This movie exhausted me. It's too long, with too many stories. I know one could easily say "Lilith, just stop and watch more later.", but that's not how people watch things anymore. We live in the era of binge watching, of having to shove everything into your eyes before anyone else just to avoid the spoilers. I feel bad for the people who actually care about Avengers: Endgame and don't manage to score tickets.

This series has gotten some negative reviews over the level of violence toward women, with plenty of talking points about how you don't need boobs and butts and gore to be 'for adults'. And you don't, but sometimes it helps.

Case in point: There are two specific episodes I feel are receiving the most blow back: The Witness and Good Hunting. Most are saying The Witness is just an excuse for a woman to run around a city while wearing nothing. Good Hunting is just gratuitous violence against women.

The Witness has artistry beyond compare. It has animation that I have never, ever, ever seen before and I genuinely don't know how they did it. Rotoscope, it has to be, but, is it? It's jaw droppingly, impossibly beautiful. It has wonderful set pieces, a deeply designed city they really try to show off, inventive 'breaks' or 'inserts' in the animation where it gets all frantic and sketchy and abstract, it's beautiful. While others were rolling their eyes at the boobs, I was wondering how the fuck they animated her silk robe. I find it so happily refreshing to wonder how something was created without having to just shrug and answer "Computers."

The story was predictable but I found it an absolute joy to watch.

Good Hunting is actually my second favorite of the whole series. It's beautiful, and a welcome sight of more traditional 2D animation. I think. I'm not an expert. I love the way this story builds on the relationships of the two characters from two different worlds. It's a story about perspective, about the same situations told from different points of view. Again, I feel some people are overlooking the writing of the story, the character building, and just become scandalized at the sexual violence. Yes, what happens is horrible, nightmarish, and maybe pretty gratuitous but I feel the writing and the art earned the horror, and the payoff. It's a beautiful story of the juxtaposition of magic and technology and I adored it.

Meanwhile, out of the 6 photo realistic CGI tales, I only enjoyed 2 of them.

Sonnie's Edge worked for me because while photo-realistic in skin and movement, they still had exaggerated, caricature designs. It took away the uncanny valley effect. The short had an really cool look and style, with some creative creature designs. It was way too front loaded with exposition, but over all, it was a good opening.

Shape-Shifters was just fun. Gory, pretty, with amazing photo-realism on the creatures and it did well to build up sympathy for all the characters. The dialog is pretty corny but it's a good effort and I liked it.

Lucky 13 and Beyond the Aquila Rift were distracting in their photo-realism. The CGI boobies were weird. Especially when compared to The Witness. Though I did like the song in the Aquila Rift episode, and it had a really cool reveal.

By the time we got to Secret War I was just tired. The series had worn out its welcome and they already told this story in an earlier episode called Suits. Although holy fuck how did they animate those horses? The horses looked real.

But, my absolute least favourite episode was Helping Hand. Distracting uncanny valley, an idiot for a main character, and not one, not two, but three unearned Alien references. The woman didn't even tether herself to her ship! She's a moron and I felt no sympathy.

The other episodes run the gamut from good to fine to meh. All in all I was expecting greatness and just got...hours of content, which is Netflix's job.

This series started life as a new version of Heavy Metal, which is a film I actually grew up with... I'll tell you that story...next time.

LILITH'S SCORE: 3.5/5

NEXT TIME: The film to which LOVE, DEATH + ROBOTS owes everything...Heavy Metal.



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