Altered Carbon (2018)

Altered Carbon, S01E01 [Spoiler-Free Review]

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Chris Conner, Kristin Lehman

High concept science fiction set in the future is tricky to do and to do well; no, not tricky damn hard. You have to walk a fine line between establishing a well-grounded world that feels organic and realistic and also set it hundreds of years into the future. Netflix’s newest original series Altered Carbon hits the ground running with a wildly creative future neo. Set in the distant future, prisoner Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) returns in a new body called re-sleeving and must help a rich man named Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) to solve his murder in return for money and freedom. Altered Carbon’s first episode does a nice job of providing a lot of information and world-building, and it does it in a way that doesn’t feel forced or even worse of all, through terrible exposition. This isn’t as easy as it seems especially when you have so much backstory and information to get across to the audience, but it does this in a really fresh and organic way.

Besides great writing, the show as a host of great actors including Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad), James Purefoy (The Following), and Renée Elise Goldsberry (Star Trek Enterprise) just to name a few. Netflix has given this series the gold treatment and the budget is used to provide us with a wonderfully trippy, neon blazed, future landscape that feels realistic even though it is fantastical. I cannot say enough great things about inventive the visuals are, they truly set the stage for a cool high brow sci-fi, action mystery. The first episode also had some fun nods to the literary world, such as Edgar Allan Poe and The Raven Hotel and the actor who bears a wonderful likeness to the late great author. I will warn viewers that this is extremely sci-fi heavy so if that is not something you get into, then you may like this. Also, it goes pretty quickly so you have to pay close attention and even then a second viewing might be required. My one complaint is that the show plays a bit fast and loose with its almost overly complicated plot and hopefully, they reign that in as the show progresses.

Overall, my impression of the first episode of Altered Carbon is that it’s an engrossing, highly creative, well-acted, future noir that has a strong element of mystery that will most certainly have me watching till half my day is gone and the other 9 episodes are burnt through.


Posted by Mike Vaughn

Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review –Currently he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema. Instagram castle_anger https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Guide-Strange-Cinema/dp/0764354280

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