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Love, Death & Robots: Review

Love Death & Robots: il trailer della serie Netflix creata ...

A Series of Animated Shorts

The latest Cyberpunk series, Love, Death & Robots, is finally out! Or rather, the latest sci-fi/fantasy animated short anthology is out.

Love, Death & Robots is a wonderful combination of short films loosely connected around the theme of the title, combining visually stunning stories from some deep concepts to ridiculous tales of sentient yoghurt.

No, I’m not kidding. It’s episode 6 and is called “When the Yoghurt Took Over”.

With 18 episodes in total running between 6 minutes and 17 minutes each, there are only five stories that could truly be considered “Cyberpunk”, with a few others similar in style and the rest simply unrelated. I’ll be covering these

1. Sonnie’s Edge: An Instant Cyberpunk Classic

A well-delivered tale in an interesting world, Sonnie’s Edge reminded me of Pacific Rim meets Altered Carbon a la death-cage-match. Visually stunning, this first episode set the bar too high for me, resulting in my disappointment that (practically) no other episode could compete in quality and themes touched upon. It has the Cyberpunk visuals, the Punk vibe, Cybernetics and Sexuality to make it excellent. I’ve purposely decided not to share the premise, since it does a great job world-building and part of the fun is finding out how the world works.

2. Suits

The second Cyberpunk-like tale is Suits, and tells the tale of a community of farmers from the southern US that need to protect their turf against alien creatures that threaten to invade their land and destroy their crops. It’s basically what would happen if the deep south had to contend with alien wolves attacking their farms, but instead of guns, they were equipped with lasers, mech suits and overpowered artillery. A lot of fun, and a heart-warming tale of killing and community.

3. Aquilus Rift

The next Cyberpunk tale, Beyond the Aquilus Rift, is more Pseudo-cyberpunk and feels more like a tale of “Aliens” if you added a layer of fractured reality. It involves a ship’s crew who begin a routine deep-freeze to travel a long distance through space, only to end up widely off-course upon their awakening. This episode felt more like a Black-Mirror type animated short, with a tale that starts off well enough but slowly gets worse and worse as the episode continues. Great story-telling and visual effects again, but personally not my cup of tea.

4. Zima Blue

Zima Blue was my favorite episode of the entire first season of Love, Death & Robots. Its premise is simple: a reporter is invited to interview a famous artist who is about to reveal his latest piece of work. Although a lot more animated cartoon than digital CGI (it felt reminiscent of Samurai Jack in terms of sharp ages and defined exaggerated features full of vibrant colors and beautiful shapes), the short tale comes full circle in a way that surprised me in the end, and although devoid of action or any fast pacing, replaces it again with a tranquil simplicity in the metaphor it tells of life. Definitely the most profound episode for me, which is perhaps why it’s the one that left the most lasting impact.

5. Blind Spot

Finally, Blind Spot is the second perfect example of Cyberpunk, featuring a high-octane heist of punks trying to steal a valuable microchip from a convoy protected by robots. Another great set of visuals with a fun twist at the end, the artistic style of this episode reminded me more of Cartoon Network’s cartoons, and perhaps something that might show up on Toonami. No CGI digital effects here but also very stylistically different from Zima Blue. It’s a fun fast-paced tale with the right amounts of action and punk attitude.

Final Verdicts:

Overall Love, Death & Robots is a great series highly worth a couple of hours to watch. I would give Sonnie’s Edge 9/10, Suits 7/10, Beyond the Aquilus Rift 6.5/10 simply because I don’t like those kinds of stories as much, Zima Blue 9/10, and Blind Spot 8.5/10.

You can watch Love, Death & Robots streaming on Netflix.

 

Replicas: A Review

Replicas Review

Well, it took me about a month to be able to get a copy of it and watch it, but I’ve finally been able to see one of the latest Cyberpunk movies of 2019, Replicas.

In case you missed my pre-release post¬†about this indie movie coming out in theaters, here’s another summary of the plot. Neuroscientist William Foster is on the verge of a breakthrough in transferring human consciousness to robot bodies when his family is suddenly and tragically killed in a car accident. As a result, Foster decides to take the already developing technology of organic cloning and combine it with his human consciousness work in order to attempt to create flash clones of his family and then imprint their minds on their subsequent clone bodies in time. Not all goes according to plan, however, and not all is at it seems as the corporation he works for starts to suspect something wrong is afoot.

Relatively short in length, Replicas tries to attempt many different things at the same time, and I would venture to say it was fairly successful in doing so. Despite relatively poor CGI for their robot bodies by today’s standards, I thoroughly enjoyed this Cyberpunk take on digitizing consciousness and cloning. Keanu Reeves does a great job of being a harried scientist that has to race against time to solve problem after problem in order to try to bring his family back to life.

I really don’t know why this movie got so poorly reviewed online. Perhaps because of high expectations for some reason? Or maybe because of the relatively flimsy nature of the antagonists in the story? Although I would argue that the real antagonist here is fate. Replicas feels like a Cyberpunk tale of a scientist problem-solving his way through an impossible task, much like Matt Damon did in The Martian. It’s not an action film, if that’s what you were expecting, and it’s nothing deep philosophically like the Matrix was. However, it does an interesting job of asking the question: how would biological bodies interface with mental minds and human brains, in order to have a digital copy of consciousness take on a body or even a clone body? And how would these clones of real life deal with the ethical and philosophical implications of them existing only as a copy of someone or something else?

Overall I would give Replicas a solid 8/10. Go into the movie expecting a race against time and problem-solving story, with little action, and you won’t be disappointed.