Film Reviews

"Love, Death & Robots" Is a Master Class in Short Film

Ferocious alien creatures, nudity, and fiery robot battles wrapped in surprisingly smart stories.

Tim Miller and David Fincher's short film anthology Love, Death & Robots is the ideal series for the YouTube generation.

Its 18 shorts (Fincher discourages people from calling them "episodes") are only six to seventeen minutes long, serving up quick injections of futuristic robots, blood-thirsty aliens, gory violence, and full frontal nudity. As the creator's "love letter to nerds," Miller reimagines kitschy horror tropes and comic book fantasies in a grander narrative about humanity's future when technology runs amok. If you're not put off by the fact that almost every survival story is dripping with machismo, emphasizes action and sex scenes over plot details, and flashes female nudity whenever possible, Love, Death & Robots is a seriously impressive milestone in the development of NSFW Netflix.

Watch the shorts chronologically to experience the genre-bending power of the series' versatility. Its aesthetics range from photo-real CGI to Disney-style animation, with outstanding production quality that ranks Netflix as a powerhouse of adult animation. At the series' screening at SXSW, Miller described the project as a "global celebration" of the art of short film, referring to the international team of animators who brought the pre-written stories to life. With dozens of collaborators from Hungary, Canada, Korea, and Japan working under Miller and Fincher's direction, the series leaps between different tones, artistic styles, pacing, and humor.

At times evocative of 1970s comic books and at others as provocative as Japanese hentai, the collection jumps from psychological horror to comedy, from adrenaline-fueled action to mythological fantasy. Contrast and irony are the only unifying characteristics of the versatile shorts; even though each installment is flashy, the stories themselves have smart concepts wrapped up with haunting turns. "Sonnie's Edge" places a #MeToo trauma story in the center of a battle royale between two ferocious creatures that are psychically controlled by human handlers — and that's just the background story. "Beyond the Aquila Rift" is a typical space adventure gone awry but with a twist on alien tropes, while "Three Robots" is a tight comedy about three androids on a sightseeing vacation in a fallen human city.

NSS Magazine

Love, Death & Robots pays homage to the short film genre with big-budget production quality and a killer soundtrack. The series tries to question the limits of technology, revenge, and survival with a pithy art form, effectively ending in 18 climactic cutaways that would fit well in the middle of 18 separate feature films. But the jarringness works, and the sense of sampling a grander narrative is what makes the short film genre more applicable to modern times than ever — These days, every tragedy is a soundbite, gone before we can begin to process it and replaced with a new quest for survival.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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To Donald Trump: 5 Ways You're Actually a Flawless Being Doing a Beautiful, Unbelievable Job Right Now

You could resign if you want to, but then who will keep America so GD great?

With Donald Trump making a visit to Bangor, Maine today, the editorial board of the Portland Press Herald issued an op-ed calling for President Trump to resign.

The harshly critical piece entitled "To President Trump: You Should Resign Now" was framed as an open letter to the president and got straight to the point with this opening plea, "We're sorry that you decided to come to Maine, but since you are here, could you do us a favor? Resign."

In recent days even George W. Bush has been critical of President Trump's response to protests, so this new piece quickly became a trending topic on Twitter. Obviously this is another baseless attack from the lying news media—AKA lügenpresse. Considering how delicate our president's ego is—he's our special little guy—we can only hope that Donald Trump didn't see the letter; but just in case he did, it's worth writing another one to lift his spirits. So here's our best attempt—with lots of pictures and flattery to keep him reading:

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Film Lists

7 Movie Reboots We Deserve Before We Die

More gremlins, more demonic possession, more AOL chat rooms.

Huff Post

Would you rather be trapped on a raft with Kevin Costner when he has matted hair and a seashell earring or return to using AOL dial-up? Would you prefer to discover a demonic cat boy in your home or be cursed to hear every man's waking thought?

If Hollywood movie executives were forced to answer those questions, then maybe they'd show more discretion towards what source material they choose for film reboots. As of now, we're braced for a barrage of superhero flicks and live-action Disney remakes. Not that Hollywood cares, but if we're going to fall into the nostalgic void, some movies deserve revisiting more than others.

Rebooting any of these 80s and 90s favorites would be better than a sixth Grudge movie:

1.The Craft (1996)

The Craft poster that hung on every teenage girl's wall.The Mary Sue

It's the cult hit that confirmed a teenage girl and the devil are one and the same. Coming-of-age movies always find an audience, but a remake of The Craft would be a reprieve from the overly-saccharine tones of today's young adult films and CW network's teen dramas. Robin Tunney, for one, has been ready for a remake of her breakout film since 2016, when the studio first teased the idea for the film's 20th anniversary. While producers confirm they're still developing a script, Tunney regularly reunites with Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True for fan conventions and occasional exorcisms.

2. Trading Places (1983)

Trading Places explored the crapshoot of economic and racial difference.NPR

Even though Eddie Murphy favors his hit Coming to America to this John Landis comedy, he and Dan Ackroyd were excellent at exploring class and racial differences during the economic boom of the 80s. Remaking the comedy today would be a biting satire of today's socio-economic turbulence.

3. Clueless (1995)

Clueless should be rebooted for today's Uber and Postmates generation.Insider

It sounds classy to say this was loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma, but this teen flick was written purely for 90s mall rats and sexually frustrated high schoolers. We're stoked that a remake is supposedly in progress with Glow-writer Marquita Robinson, but a modern-day Clueless would be a massive undertaking, remapping the original's fashion, technology, politics, and dating culture.

4. Gremlins (1984)

We deserve more Gremlins.Creative Tourist

Original director Joe Dante has been teasing a remake of the creepy-cute horror-comedy for decades. In 2014, he acknowledged fans' fatigue with the wait: "I am not involved with it. It's something that we hear about every six months for the past five to 10 years. I know there have been many attempts to do it. It's tricky because the rights are jointly owned by Warner Bros and [Steven Spielberg's] Amblin, so you've got to jump through two hurdles to get your idea approved." More Mogwai are always welcome; if we can live with Will Smith as a big blue genie in Aladdin, we can accept anything.

5. You've Got Mail (1998)

You've Got Mail was nervous about corporate power and tech in 1998. Those were the days.The New York Times

Admittedly, outdated social features in this 90s rom-com include chat rooms, independent bookstores, and a triumphant human spirit. But reimagining the film's conflicts over corporate takeovers and communication technology would be a refreshing take on today's Amazon Prime addictions and bad Tinder dates.

6. Short Circuit (1986) / Short Circuit (1988)

Short Circuit believed robots looked like toasters.Gizmodo

It seems every 80s movie imagined the future was full of junkyard robots and abandoned laws of physics. A reboot of the Short Circuit films would bridge a comedic middle ground between Ex Machina and Wall-E. Again, our hopes for a remake have been toyed with since 2012, with IMDB claiming that writer Brent Maddock re-envisioned the sentient robot and his weird human friends: "Number 5, one of a group of experimental military robots, undergoes a sudden transformation after being struck by lightning. He develops self-awareness, consciousness, and a fear of the reprogramming that awaits him back at the factory. With the help of a troubled young boy, Number 5 tries to evade capture and convince his creator that he has truly become alive."

7. Waterworld (1995)

Waterworld's Sea Eater scene was almost worth the trauma.Film Takeout

Someone dare James Cameron to remake Waterworld. In 1995, it was the most expensive film ever made. With the Avatar director resetting this record with nearly each of his movies, he'd probably flood an entire American city to shoot the opening titles.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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