So begins our episode-by-episode analysis of Love, Death, and Robots or as I like to call it, Heavy Metal Magazine, the animated series. The first episode, Sonnie’s Edge, is a 17-minute CGI film chronicling the underground world of mutant monster battles.
Short though it is, the opening title sequence is worth mentioning. It’s sleek, graphic, and embodies modern sensibilities of pictorial communication. This blends with the glitchy/graffiti vibe that establishes the personality of the overall anthology.
Through an elegantly paced opening sequence, we are taken from the slums of a futuristic city to an underground fighting tournament beneath a church.
I love how the blacklight graffiti on the transportation truck foreshadows the blacklight tattoos the combatants display during the fight. We’re introduced to our core cast of characters whose facial features manage to balance photorealistic detail with slightly exaggerated proportions.
The fight between the two monsters is impressive and adheres to Guillermo Del Toro’s principles of monster design in that each creature has an iconic silhouette and we discover something new about the beast each time they are shown on screen.
Sonnie’s beastie displays the ability to turn its tail into several tentacles that can support the creature’s bodyweight much like Doc Ock. Just as Beowulf ripped off the arm of Grendel, so too does Sonnie maim her opponent. However, it is discovered that the rival creature can morph its bones into a hidden blade like Wolverine’s bone claws.
Sonnie is able to pull through the fight and rip the beast’s head off with the spinal cord still attached, echoing Subzero’s original fatality in Mortal Kombat; a move that was seen as so graphic at the time that it created the M-rating.
At the start of the film, Sonnie refused to throw the fight and it’s only at the end that we realize why. She can’t let her beastie lose in the ring because that is her real body. It’s a satisfying twist that pays off when she’s able to reap bloody revenge against the fighting ringleader who betrayed her.
Overall Sonnie’s Edge served as a strong first episode that established the dark tonality of the anthology while showing that nothing is at it first appears.
Love, Death, and Robots is currently streaming on Netflix.