Altered Carbon is now on Netflix, based on the cyberpunk books by Richard Morgan (which I read about 15 years ago and am somewhat fuzzy on). I'm up to ep 5 of 10 now; time for binging is hard to come by but I'm trying.
"Avoid blunt force trauma to the base of the brain, and energy weapons fired at the head!"
Good story adaptation. Doesn't flinch from any of the gross biology, the casual homicides and "organic damage", the sex and nudity. It's some good old-fashioned porn and torture porn at times.
So first, the weird premise: Everyone has an alien-tech chip in their spine which backs up the brain, lets them transfer to another "sleeve" (body). I have problems with this: Alien tech shouldn't interact with Human biology, and how did they get interstellar travel in the very near future? The show doesn't do much to establish the year or future history, but best I can figure:
- Now? Interstellar travel.
- 2050? Find alien tech, get brain chips.
- 2100: Protectorate vs Envoy war.
- 2350: Present.
I don't remember how much was explained in the book, but it's way too fast up front and then nothing happens for 250 years.
There's too many physical hardware devices, when almost everything should be software projected on any flat surface or into your optic nerve.
The Methuselahs, rich assholes who can't die, don't really show off how debauched they are until a few eps in, but it's pretty tame compared to Caligula.
The Neo-Catholic and Muslim fruitloops who don't want to be resurrected never made any sense to me in the book, and of course they're committing demographic suicide, there shouldn't be any "believers" this long after the chip.
I don't like the goomba actor they "sleeved" Kovacs in, but Ortega, Elliott, Poe, and most of the others are fine. Kovacs' Hello Kitty backpack full of guns makes me laugh every scene. The fight scenes are great, very bloody and physical, up-close combat. The hotel fight was excellent, once the mooks realize the hotel's killing them.
Visuals are sometimes very derivative of Blade Runner, which wasn't at all the impression I got from the book. Later it gets more of its own look, more gutter SF. The trash areas look like Richard Stanley's Hardware, but not as dirty. The upper city has pneumatic tubes for cars like Futurama, and flying cars with manual controls which seems so implausible it may as well be a sleigh with flying reindeer.
But it's well-shot, the CG mixed into the world constantly as you'd expect from neural-interfaced brains.
Should be ★★★★★ because they made a show of guns, fucking, and brain-fucking for me, but the stupid timeline knocks it down to ★★★★☆
3 thoughts on “Altered Carbon”
@mdhughes Nice overview. I can’t wait to start this one.
@mdhughes Thanks for that, great review.
@mdhughes thanks for sharing these thoughts. I’ve been having fun with this show over the last few evenings. The backpack and Poe get me every time.
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