Altered Carbon Review: An Intriguing Take on Cyberpunk

Jordan Samuel Jordan Samuel
Expert Contributor
February 3rd, 2018

Content Editor, Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast

Review of: Altered Carbon

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On February 3, 2018
Last modified:February 3, 2018

Summary:

Altered Carbon is a dependable addition to the Netflix programming despite not taking advantage of the rich source material, it a pays respectful homage to the cyberpunk genre with strong themes and atmosphere.

Review of: Altered Carbon

Reviewed by:
Rating:

3
On February 3, 2018
Last modified:February 3, 2018

Summary:

Altered Carbon is a dependable addition to the Netflix programming despite not taking advantage of the rich source material, it a pays respectful homage to the cyberpunk genre with strong themes and atmosphere.

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Netflix dominance in the streaming world has allowed for a slew of new programs to be created with audiences looking for the next big binge. Stranger Things brought together a solid homage to the 80s, allowing for the company to dump cash into future projects. Netflix has found their place in the industry, with all original programming rivaling the big TV networks. The streaming service is no attempting to delve into the cyberpunk and dystopian genre, with an adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s Novel Altered Carbon. But does the risky maneuver work in bringing an adult audience to the platform? Or end up forgetting what made the books so intriguing in the first place.

ALTERED CARBON is set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored in cortical stacks implanted in the spine, allowing humans to survive physical death by having their memories and consciousness "re-sleeved" into new bodies. The story follows specially trained "Envoy" soldier Takeshi Kovacs, who is downloaded from an off-world prison and into the body of a disgraced cop at the behest of Laurens Bancroft, a highly influential aristocrat. Bancroft was killed, and the last automatic backup of his stack was made hours before his death, leaving him with no memory of who killed him and why. While police ruled it a suicide, Bancroft is convinced he was murdered and wants Kovacs to find out the truth.

Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon pays respects to the gritty, neon and subject massive novel, based in eerily similar Ghost in the Shell inspired world where human minds can be downloaded and transferred to a new body. These elements all make for a Blade Runner esque compelling crime noir storyline, with a significant focus on what being human means and immortality. While the visuals do out-way any creativity in Carbon, I was so hooked on the world building and characters it never became distracting. This, without doubt, is the best looking Netflix show, with futuristic cityscapes and cinematography on another level.

The series quality is comparable to the massively popular Game of Thrones, with shocking sequences and shocking glimpses at a dystopian view of our future generation. Netflix paid serious attention to be an accurate adaptation of the book, but also twist things enough to feel like an extension of the source material. Altered Carbon’s plays out like your big standard detective tale, but the new themes make it one to remember: pushing boundaries seen in the sci-genre.

Questioning human nature, and whether or not these ideas are written into the species to cause conflict, something that always comes to mind during the bloody action scene and central plot. But, despite an impressive world Altered Carbon is more interested in showing of the glitzy visuals, throwing all depth needed to push its self away from action-driven sci-fi. The action scenes are inspired by The Matrix, turning our body and mind (Joel Kinnaman and Will Yun Lee) to a dual wielding killing machine.

Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon follows our central protagonist Takeshi Kovacs on his quest to investigate the murder of an immortal wealthy man, Lauren Bancroft (James Purefoy) and these events serve as the backdrop for a mixed bag of storytelling. Borrowing elements from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), with apparent influences in design and the neo-noir genres - the show just doesn’t have the balls to delve into some of the more intriguing concepts.

Story continues below

Instead relies on a cliche murder investigation, that doesn’t flesh out the beautiful world created around it. Kovacs is a fascinating character, to say the least, with his two lives all merging and making him stronger in a world full of immortals. Joel Kinnaman transforms in the role: pushing away from his wooden delivery seen in prior projects, bringing to life a dark, mysterious detective. Carbon does well with setting up future adventures from the main character, building on their complicated backstories.

Altered Carbon is a dependable addition to the Netflix programming despite not taking advantage of the rich source material, it a pays respectful homage to the cyberpunk genre with strong themes and atmosphere. The talent involved all deliver solid performances, turning the make-believe twisted world into being: transporting audiences to a timeline that makes death obsolete. I commend Netflix for taking significant risk and knocking it out the park, adapting Richard K. Morgan’s novel for the streaming generation. Let’s hope a second season is confirmed because this world is full of greatness, and needs to be explored.

Altered Carbon

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Altered Carbon is a dependable addition to the Netflix programming despite not taking advantage of the rich source material, it a pays respectful homage to the cyberpunk genre with strong themes and atmosphere.

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