Photo courtesy of Netflix.com | The Netflix original Altered Carbon is a spin-off of the 2002 original movie. It describes a world in which human conciousnesses can be transferred between human bodies to ensure immortality.
Altered Carbon joins the ranks of Netflix’s in-house TV shows, even though you probably haven’t heard of it yet. That’s mainly because while you were still amazed that Netflix was able to release the next Cloverfield movie with a surprise ad during the Super Bowl, it had to play second banana in terms of marketing.
It’s a shame too, since it’s a very intriguing show. Altered Carbon is based on a 2002 movie where Takeshi Kovacs, a former U.N. elite soldier, then “terrorist” turned private investigator, attempts to investigate a rich man’s death for him. Kovacs died 250 years before the story takes place but is brought back to life through a device called a “stack.” A stack is implanted in everyone on their first birthday and allows the human consciousness to be transferred from one body, or “sleeve” as the human body is now referred to, to another.
The story of Altered Carbon may not be the most original part about it. I’m five episodes in, and it mixes various story tropes to try to be interesting. It’s got the murder mystery storyline mixed in with good vs. evil and rich vs. poor. There’s a man who’s doing his best to save his daughter, who is trapped in her stack. There is even a small subplot about an artificial intelligence hotel/vr brothel manager who wants to learn what it means to be human. There is an interesting plot twist, but once you see it, it’s not all that surprising. It’s probably why critics only gave Altered Carbon a 64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
So it’s got to be the setting and the visuals that leave it at 90 percent for an audience review score. And that’s something I have to agree with. Altered Carbon sets up very early in the first episode that humans are no longer defined by their body. And this is what allows for a setup of an interesting look at the world where one can potentially be immortal.
The rich can live for hundreds of years, pay for exact clones and even have literal backups of the consciousness in a satellite in case something happens to their stacks. This is in stark contrast to a poor 7-year-old girl who was accidentally killed and through a government program placed in the sleeve of a woman in her 40s. The new neo-Catholic Church argues against the use of stacks, saying it is impossible to reach God by using one.
It also isn’t afraid to be funny at times either. The A.I. hotel manager likes Edgar Allan Poe and names his hotel the Raven.
It’s a combination of the setting and intense visual effects action sequences that seem to redeem Altered Carbon. I found it very hard to try and look at my phone or play video games while watching. It’s very much a show where you want your eyes on the screen at all times.
Despite this, I hope the story is able to hold up to its awesome setting. Hopefully Altered Carbon, will be able to shed its unoriginal plot tropes and find its footing in later episodes.
By: Jack Dunn ~Staff Writer~