The year has just started and already Netflix hits us with one of the best cyberpunk TV series within the decade in the form of Altered Carbon, a blockbuster hit adapted from the novel of the same name by Richard K. Morgan. Not often do we get a cyberpunk series that come off edgy and gritty since the days of Blade Runners, and for those of you who had played Deus Ex, you can see a strange marriage between the two here in Altered Carbon,
The world takes place in the far future, whereby death is for the poor and the rich can live forever. This is due to a new technology called cortical stacks. To simplify the sci-fi lingo that goes with it, think of it as a USB that stores all your information, from memories, consciousness, habits, basically, it stores what makes you well….you. so how does this translate to immortality? In this world, bodies are now referred to as sleeves, whereby each time you die, your stack can be reused into another body almost as if you are wearing new sleeves. However, the quality of the body, however, as well as the new body do not come cheap, wherein lies the disparity between the wealthy and the poor.
The plot revolves around an ex-mercenary by the name of Takeshi Kovacs who has been brought back to life after 250 years by the richest man in the world, Laurens Bancroft in order to solve a murder mystery regarding his own death. The murder mystery, however, is all part of a bigger ploy and it will bring with it tons of violence.
The world of Altered Carbon is rich, deep, and full of intricacies. If you remember the cities of Blade Runner whereby the atmosphere is dark, musky, noisy and full of random people of all races, then you can definitely relate to the scenery in Altered Carbon. There is a clear divide between the lower class and the higher based on the ambient lighting that is portrayed in the scenes, with a dark hue for those down below, and a brighter hue for the wealthy who live in tall ivory like towers that keep them away from the mundane mortal lives.
Take note, however, that this series is not family friendly as it features some really gory scenes with plenty of gratuitous sex/nude scenes. But without it, the series would be an empty husk, as it portrays how little people care about their bodies in this universe and how knowing that you can be brought back if you have resources affects the way they live their lives. The usage of VR in Altered Carbon is also one of the coolest features in this series, whereby you can experience otherworldy pleasures all from your VR pod or even interrogate or torture victims in a neverending loop of torment, which the villain uses almost too often.
With so many elements being portrayed, each scene is filled to the brim in detail, allowing viewers to not only be fully engrossed in the story but also be awed at the weird constructs that fill this world. AI’s are also an element in this world with entire hotels being controlled by these AI. However, this series is placed so far into the future that even AI hotels are considered to be archaic.
All in all, we have blitzed through Altered Carbon in binge fashion and there is much we enjoyed about it. It does not lack in action, plot and the soundtrack are amazing as well. For those of you sci-fi fans looking for a new series to watch on Netflix, then perhaps its time to resleeve into Altered Carbon.