Love, Death + Robots debuted its first set of animated stories back in 2019, introducing fans to 18 different worlds all tied together through the central packaging. Each story had something to do with either love, death, or robots, and some of them even took on all three. This was well-received enough to warrant a second volume of the Tim and Jennifer Miller, Joshua Donen, and David Fincher-produced anthology series, and now there are several new stories hoping to make the same kind of impact that the original volume did.
Love, Death + Robots is therefore fighting quite the uphill battle due to the nature of it being an anthology. It runs the risk of disconnecting from the audience as it moves from story to story. The second volume then doubles up on this central risk by following up such a voluminous first outing. Volume 2 meets this head-on as it pares down its selection for a brisker, leaner, meaner, and somehow more lovable experience overall.
Anthologies live or die by the selection of stories, and like the first volume, the overall thematic ties are broad. The majority of the selections have science-fiction elements, and the others dive into slightly more horror and fantasy-friendly ideas. The package tying the stories together is pretty much non-existent, but there are thematic ties you can draw between each one.
For example, "Life Hutch" stars Michael B. Jordan as a space pilot trying to get to safety inside a titular life hutch, but then has to deal with a malfunctioning robot trying to kill him. This killer robot idea is also seen in "Automated Customer Service" as a robot vacuum goes out of control and tries to kill its owner. It's a small story idea shared between, but they are completely opposite experiences.
"Life Hutch" features a blend of live-action, motion-capture, and CG animation. It accomplishes an impressive realism through a seamless blend of all three, but it's also the complete opposite of its companion, "Automated Customer Service." That short features exaggerated character designs, bouncy animation, and humor. So while they don't seem like they go together at first because of everything that makes them different, that central core idea unites them.
It's a much more complete-feeling experience that's even more impressive when you consider there are much fewer of a selection than in the first volume. There's a good balance of hyper-realism, stop-motion, and experimental styles here despite there being fewer options available. None of the stories feel like they overstay their welcomes, either. They are punchy, interesting, and leave you wanting more.
Unfortunately, it's just a bit disjointed in the delivery. Some of the selections hit harder than others, and its final episode is definitely not the last one you want to see. As a new volume in an anthology, Love, Death + Robots: Volume 2 does not exactly give off the best impression, but as a collection of eight new short films not connected to anything else, it's a great time.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Love, Death and Robots: Volume 2 is now streaming on Netflix.