Film · Review · Television

Netflix’s ‘Love Death & Robots: The Secret War’ Review

I guess this kinda represents an anticlimax then, the last episode isn’t the show’s worst or its best. It hangs somewhere around the middle, barely managing to escape the fog of mediocrity that it is mired in. Maybe i’m just exhausted, Netflix has just uploaded Neon Genesis: Evangelion and I kinda just wanna get this over with.

I’ll admit, I felt a kinship with these characters, struggling as they are against a unmanageable and unpredictable hoard of disgusting and violent things. Certain of their own demise, but continuing anyway the bloody trudge that’ll see them to their end. Director István Zorkóczy mostly seems to work in video game cinematics and it shows. The action is well presented, if under-choreographed and over-cut and the story is the barest of skeletons required to move the characters into position.

The feel of it is right though, set in the wilderness while most of the army is occupied at the Siege of Leningrad (weirdly referred to as Petersburg here), the story takes on the feel of something laid out in the writing of Curzio Malaparte, whose chronicling of the Eastern Front took on a hallucinatory, otherworldly quality befitting the final, tired days of a messy war.

Of course they’re battling weirdo monsters, apparently summoned forth from the Earth by some dark magick ritual, and of course the camera zooms around the digital set impossibly so to lavish attention on the defiled corpse at its centre. A strange note in a film that otherwise seems to pride itself on its restraint.

A brief travelling montage is very compelling, allowing the frame to be almost totally washed out by the prevailing snow; and a moment of piece where the men camp, hearing far off sounds of their comrades being slaughtered, bring in some chilly pathos. Of course, they’re all tricks that’ve been done before, but you can at least sense the work of someone trying.

The monsters too, with how they come to represent a cold and unfeeling earth, an extension of the planet’s will during a long, hard winter. We’ve all felt it, being trapped is easy. I wonder why the decision was made to make these troops Russians, aside from a quick reference to Orthodoxy and their compassion for the slaughtered locals it seems very much random — especially considering what happened to Germans on the eastern front.

But maybe they just didn’t want you sympathising with the Nazis. I mean, another episode written by Philip Gelatt, so I’ve no idea what he was thinking. His adolescent nihilism is deadly boring and we exit with another episode with nothing on its mind.

It’s just been announced that we’re getting a season two.

Joy.

Love, Death & Robots is currently available to stream via Netflix.

love_death_robots_the_secret_war_rating
Image courtesy of Netflix

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