Review: Altered Carbon (Season 1, 2018)

Altered Carbon

+ Recommended – TV-MA, Sci-Fi, Drama

Altered Carbon dares to be a different kind of Netflix project; definitely an expensive one. You can now watch one of the most expensive projects Netflix has ever tackled. But should you?

Drop what you’re doing and go watch this show. It’s flaws are outnumbered by its strengths. Altered Carbon invites you into the rich, cyberpunk world it has built and holds your attention throughout the 10 episode run. After the first couple episodes the show really finds its stride and sprinkles a few twists and turns throughout. It’s very reminiscent of Blade Runner, thematically. Set in a world where the human consciousness is extracted and digitally stored, separating body and mind, a soldier (Joel Kinnaman) wakes up in a new body and must solve a murder to be set free.

Almost all plot points have been seen before, but it’s the way the creators are able to capture those moments in a new, refreshing way that demand you stay to continue watching the next episode… and the next. Considering the show’s competition on television right now, the sheer level of world-building and concepts alone deserve your attention. It’s quite obvious while you’re watching that the show has only covered a sliver of the stories that could be told in this world. If renewed, the next season could potentially be an anthology looking into the different stories among the Bay City or even some of the other worlds. What I’m trying to say is that the story possibilities are endless here, unlike most other shows.

Joel Kinnaman (Takeshi Kovacs) delivers his best performance since The Killing (also a Netflix show, go watch it). The rest of the actors are well balanced, as well. However, a couple characters and character tropes feel forced. This could be contributed to the casting, as the delivery of lines sometimes felt over-exaggerated and out of place.

Standout performances include: James Purefoy (Laurens Bancroft), Martha Higareda (Kristen Ortega), Chris Conner (Poe, my personal favorite), and Renée Goldsberry (Quell Falconer). The cast and character dynamic is powerful and all of them play off each other well. I was invested in many of the characters, making the stakes even higher when the characters faced being RD’d (real deathed).

The visuals are something you’d expect for any other cyberpunk show or movie. That doesn’t discount how stylistically beautiful the camera work is, though. If you were to pause the show at any frame you’d find that most shots are carefully crafted and nearly perfect. I found myself going “Ooo-ahhh” at least 5-10 times in each episode.

Overall, Altered Carbon raises the bar for other Netflix series to follow. In the day and age of streaming services, Netflix will have to create more original content on this level to be considered the dominant powerhouse, especially when Disney releases their streaming service in the coming year. I can’t wait for a second season and after watching the first, I’m going to safely say we will get one. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long but I’d rather the creators take their time so the second season can live up to the first.

Author: Jared Charles

I am the owner of The Burrow Reviews. Currently studying Film, English, Political Science, and Gender Studies.

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