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Love, Death & Robots: major SF authors in a new anthology Netflix series

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2 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

I've seen a few articles pop up today about the male gaze thing, but as I don't have netflix I really can't offer an opinion. Seems to have rubbed some people the wrong way, but these days a chicken nugget will do that.

I've just read one that criticizes the show for that and putting women in bad situations, while ignoring the other episodes with male nudity (there were a few dicks flapping about), and the episodes that have strong women and no nudity. Not every episode needs to be the exact same.

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Just now, Corvinus said:

I've just read one that criticizes the show for that and putting women in bad situations, while ignoring the other episodes with male nudity (there were a few dicks flapping about), and the episodes that have strong women and no nudity. Not every episode needs to be the exact same.

Yeah I had no idea this even existed til a saw some angry articles about it. So..yay marketing? :P

Would not be the first time people completely miss the point.

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Having seen three so far: The Witness is definitely male gazey, aggressively so. And although pretty it was otherwise quite dull, I didn't like it.

Sonnie's Edge was good. You could argue there was a male gaze aspect there too but it had plot relevance there, and was pretty brief.


Three Robots was funny, but it's aesop was so unsubtle as to detract from the story. Overall it was fine though.

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Yeah, to be clear I don't think the whole show is particularly male gazey, just some of them, and the Witness stands out as being excessively so. (Aquila Rift could be argued that that's sort of the point, mind you, but it also has the most porny part of the whole thing). And then there's something like Shape-Shifters, which manages to invert that entirely in a way that works well.

Also, I love Gary from Soul Suckers. Love her. 

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In general there's a lot of nudity and many a penis but of the ones I've seen it's usually women being put in sexually threatened scenarios (I think the chines fox woman one had the most disturbing scenes). Although Aquila rift technically has the male being threatened but due to the POV it doesn't appear that way. I'm not counting men with their dicks out while being attacked as sexually threatened (the dump) because there was nothing sexual about the attack. I'm enjoying it but I suspect teenage boys who play video games will love it.

The whole thing has a very European feel to me regarding nudity in the sense they are indifferent to it unless it's specifically meant to be erotic/arousing. Again, the episode with the fox woman has nudity where it's just nudity because the creature doesn't wear clothes - it isn't seducing anyone or being lusted after.

 

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It's not just the male gaze, it's that in the 7 I've watched there's a tendency to show awful things happening to women while the women are being sexualized. And there's a bit of a double standard going on in some of them too - Sonnie gets spiked through the end while kissing another women, the other women then gets spiked through the head after having her breasts out... But the guy who is actually the villain has his death implied to be awful but off screen after the end. It's very obviously made by men.

Also the mere presence of dicks on screen in no way removes male gaze, just look at Game of Thrones. It's how the camera treats the subjects.

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Posted (edited)

Missed the fact that in "The Witness", there's a man in the bed asleep when she runs out of her apartment, who of course is the man who sees her at the end after she shoots his doppelganger. Wonder how many of these episodes have little visual clues pointing to their twists that are easy to miss on first viewing?

ETA: Also, someone from Hong Kong points out that the entire sequence can be precisely mapped to the real city -- no mixing together areas that don't belong together, so a very deliberate effort with the geography.

Edited by Ran

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I haven't read the original story (it's hard to find unless it's in the collection of the same name, which is 90% stories I've already got in other collections), but I have a hard time imagining that the original Beyond the Aquila Rift has that much sex in it. Reynolds' books aren't exactly sexless, but he's not really an author to write about that sort of thing in excessive detail, unlike say early Peter F. Hamilton (who fortunately calmed down in his later books).

More to the point, I think it's pretty risible in 2019 (or even 2016, when they started developing the project) to have 18 stories but only 2 of them written by women, and none by the leading female SF authors of the moment (Leckie, Jemisin or Hurley at least; I'd even take Mcguire).

It is interesting that there seems to be a general agreement that The Witness and Blindspot are the two weakest stories. They're the two written especially for this series rather than being based on a pre-existing SF short story.

Quote

Helping Hand – I like the title’s irony, and how it ties in with the plot’s resolution, but the premise is off.

I felt the premise was fine: it was like Gravity, but unlike Gravity it centred the story on the characters rather than the visuals. It also didn't pretend to be super scientifically accurate and then start pulling absolute shit out of nowhere (like the orbital trajectories of certain orbiting objects not being remotely anywhere near one another, not close enough to see let alone jump from one to another). It was short, sharp and to the point. There was also a 127 Hours vibe to it as well.

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Last night I watched Suits, Sucker of Souls, When the Yogurt Took Over, Beyond the Aquila Rift, Good Hunting and The Dump. Suits and Sucker of Souls were a lot of fun. Loved the mechs in SuitsWhen the Yogurt Took Over was a little quarky. Beyond the Aquila Rift looked great. I loved the steampunk and story in Good Hunting. Reminds me I still have book two of the Dandelion Dynasty to read. The Dump was a good laugh.

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The animation in Suits reminded me a lot of "into the spider-verse". Not sure there was crossover between animators.

I get the impression the witness was entirely about showing off the animation. It felt more like a test reel/calling card to attract the attention of investors for animating real shows/films. Most of the episodes are grabbing me more for the animation than the actual story but that's probably reflecting my enjoyment of comics and different visual approaches. I suspect Miller is also more interested in the visuals than the story too.

I'd like to see several of these animation teams get bigger projects off the back of this (i imagine some are already busy). Netflix might consider movies with some of these crews. I'm hoping charlie brooker is watching and thinks "i could use x for doing an animated black mirror" marrying excellent animation with better stories.

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Posted (edited)

This poll on Reddit has a rather different view of the general consensus. Over a 1,000 responses. There, three least liked are "Alternate Histories", "The Dump", and "Fish Night". I can definitely get behind "The Dump" being the worst of the lot. "Fish Night" was beautiful in its back half, but sure, very thin story, basically just a bit of a joke. "Alternate Histories" I found amusing, but I suppose the repetitive nature of the concept may have seemed boring. It's certainly not as rewatchable, IMO, as "Three Robots" or "When the Yogurt Took Over". 

As @red snow says, I think "The Witness" is much more of a piece of experimental visuals, pushing the boundaries of what CG can do. It's hugely impressive as a piece of visual animation. "Blindspot", on the other hand, was visually fine but unexceptional to me, so the story being pretty basic did nothing to help it along. But that's the joy in this anthology: nothing is ever very long, and there's always something new around the corner. 

No one has asked Tim Miller the criteria by which they approached writers, so far as I can see. If he literally said, "These are all stories I personally enjoyed", well, then we have what his tastes are. He just happens to be able to get many millions of dollars to buy the rights and animate them. 

 

ETA: Here's the original "Fish Night" story. Interestingly, the characters are reversed in age for some reason. It does change some of the intent behind the story and reduces the animated version to really being just a joke.

Edited by Ran

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I tried watching one more episode after the 7 I'd already watched which was The Hunt and didn't make it through the episode. You can have all the arguments you want about depicting sexualised violence towards women, but at the end of the day if its so ubiquitous that it makes it outright unenjoyable to a significant chunk of people then they obviously aren't going to enjoy it. I didn't engage enough with this to have arguments about the politics of it, I was just completely put off by that.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, karaddin said:

I tried watching one more episode

FWIW, none of the episodes after "Good Hunting" feature sexualized violence towards women. Indeed, sex doesn't feature in any of them after that, save for "Alternate Histories".

 

ETA: I see Netflix has confirmed that it presented 4 random play orders to users. Speculation that they were doing it based on past Netflix viewership and demographic data they've gleaned has been denied, that it's purely random A/B testing where I'm guessing they'll look at which play orders saw the most completed viewings and start to make some guesses at which content was working best and which was working worst for the audience.

Edited by Ran

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Watched a few more episodes: Shape Shifters, Zima Blue, Blind Spot, Ice Age and Alternate Histories. Of that lot, Shape Shifters had the best story, but Zima Blue was close behind it with the best animation. I was indifferent to Blind Spot and Ice Age. Didn't really care for Alternate Histories. The animation in too many of these epsiodes remind me of video game cut scenes.

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, Astromech said:

The animation in too many of these epsiodes remind me of video game cut scenes.

Some of that is because some of the studios involved specialize in video game cut scenes. Tim Miller, exec producer and creator with Fincher, also founded Blur Studio which has done zillions of game trailers and cut scenes. 

There's a list here of the various VFX studios involved. Blur did "Sonnie's Edge" and "Shape-Shifters". Axis Animation did "Helping Hand" and also do a lot of game work. Ditto Unit, who did "Beyond the Aquila Rift.  All four of these films used face capture tech.

Edited by Ran

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I have been holding off it because I did not realize what it was. The list of authors alone looks awesome. 

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1 hour ago, Ran said:

Some of that is because some of the studios involved specialize in video game cut scenes. Tim Miller, exec producer and creator with Fincher, also founded Blur Studio which has done zillions of game trailers and cut scenes. 

There's a list here of the various VFX studios involved. Blur did "Sonnie's Edge" and "Shape-Shifters". Axis Animation did "Helping Hand" and also do a lot of game work. Ditto Unit, who did "Beyond the Aquila Rift.  All four of these films used face capture tech.

I assumed as much. I can't say I'm a huge fan of face capture. The faces always remind of character creation screens in video games.

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12 hours ago, Ran said:

FWIW, none of the episodes after "Good Hunting" feature sexualized violence towards women. Indeed, sex doesn't feature in any of them after that, save for "Alternate Histories".

 

ETA: I see Netflix has confirmed that it presented 4 random play orders to users. Speculation that they were doing it based on past Netflix viewership and demographic data they've gleaned has been denied, that it's purely random A/B testing where I'm guessing they'll look at which play orders saw the most completed viewings and start to make some guesses at which content was working best and which was working worst for the audience.

Yeah I was intending to go back and watch certain episodes that were confirmed to be good. I haven't seen Zima Blue yet for example.

I think my order was Sonnies Edge->Three Robots->The Witness->Suits->Sucker of Souls->When the Yogurt Took Over->Beyond the Aquila Ridge->Good Hunting. So it was only 3 with the sexualized violence plus the porny feel of the sex in BtAR wasn't really what I wanted in that story alongside the other stuff. GH was the one that really pushed me way past what I enjoy.

Interestingly that's the order I get when I look at the episode list on Google, I wonder if it's the "main" order or there's some back ground creeping.

It wasn't problematic but I also really didn't enjoy Sucker of Souls on any level, complete miss for me.

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