Finally, one of these things that isn’t painful to watch. Suits was directed by Franck Balson from a script by Philip Gelatt. Please note that all these reviews contain spoilers for the shorts, and possibly earlier ones in the series also.
The area in which the fourth short of Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots series is sorely lacking is originality. Everyday folks jump in their power-loaders to fight an oncoming swarm of snarling insectile beasties, followed up at the rear by one very big beastie. After the fight is done, those remaining alive relax wary of the storm clouds beginning to form again on the horizon.
It’s something that we’ve literally seen hundreds of times, and yet — considering how dog-awful all of their attempts at originality are — it comes as blessed relief. In fact, the one thing that it seems to be constantly fighting against is its placement among these contemporaries.
Netflix dropped a loud aggressive advert for these things a month ago. The description beneath revelled in its identity, ‘eighteen NSFW episodes’ it luxuriates; as though you couldn’t figure it out from the content of the video. Suits is a great dispute to this, there’s nothing here that wouldn’t be out of place in a PG13 rated movie.
Director Franck Balson creates an idyllic scene in the opening moments of his film, yet surprisingly he does not intend to destroy it. The warm autumnal glow that surrounds the couple as they drink tea at the kitchen table does not disappear when things get serious, he takes the frankly boring nihilism of the script and sees how it copes in a world with no room for it.
Aliens by way of Overwatch might be the most simplistic way of describing it, but it’s undoubtedly an honest one. As we’ve seen so far, bad concepts can’t be improved by caking them in grime and calling them adult. It’s insulting. Here a grain silo can transform into a giant mounted cannon and its cause for cheers because one can immediately tell what kinda story it wants to be.
The only other credit I can find for Balson is that he appeared as a previs supervisor in a Deadpool behind the scenes documentary. This will be a wonderful calling card for him in the future. Clocking in at eighteen minutes it’s about the same length as Sonnie’s Edge and yet manages to draw actual characters, and then take them on substantial journeys. Something that the first film they laid out entirely failed at.
There’s not a single moment here that feels unmotivated. The Overwatch shorts are nice, but suffer from the density of exposition that they feel the need to include. I’d compare the character work more to the further progenitors: the Team Fortress 2 character advertisements. They achieved so much by distilling the content down to gesture, tics, situations in which the subject was free to be the most themselves, possible.
While the voice acting is wonderful across the board, it’s like when Neil Kaplan’s Hank sets his tea down and it magnetises to the mech’s cup holder that defines the character. I think there’s something in the concept of the power-loader that plays as an allegory to the power of the working class, the vulnerable worker being empowered by the tools of their trade. This doesn’t really deal with that.
It’s just a few country living people smacking the hell outta aliens. Sometimes that’s enough. Adult doesn’t have to mean unpleasant.
Love, Death & Robots is currently available to stream on Netflix.
Image courtesy of Netflix