Altered Carbon (2018)

  • Gist: Sci-fi cyberpunk short-series set in a future in which human consciousness can be recorded and moved to different bodies. Follows a rebel soldier whose mind was stored for a long time being “re-sleeved”–put in a new body–by a rich dude who wants him to solve a murder.
  • My lukewarm feelings toward cyberpunk continue: William Gibson, whose work inspired the novel behind this series, is a brilliant imagineer who notably coined “cyberspace” and founded the cyberpunk genre in the 1980’s with some accurate predictions of what the Wired World would be like. But I don’t enjoy his books.
  • Altered Carbon starts with a genuine science-fiction premise: a person is no longer attached to a specific body. Raises a slew of striking and discomforting questions, many of which the series addresses.
  • Like Gibson, Altered Carbon is dystopia with a big DYS, the cast is COOL and EDGY and improbably sexy, rich folks are BAD, cops are OWNED, and somehow everyone owns leather clothes.
  • Objectionable Elements abundant, often awkward, sometimes totally gratuitous. Worst is the misogyny. Hating and hurting women is presented as a bad thing, sure, but the images of women beaten, exploited, naked, abused, mangled, and killed keep on coming. Just because other women are sometimes the perpetrators does not keep it from being misogyny.
  • Storytelling fuzzy and inefficient. It all clicks in the end, but develops slowly, dragging, jumping around in time, repeatedly stretching 30 minutes of flash over 10 minutes of content.
  • Script patchy, sometimes funny but never sublime, often weak or cliched. I could mouth the next line way too often. Wife and I took two months to watch all 10 episodes, and almost dropped it. Often I read or worked online while one played.
  • I frequently watch 1-2 episodes of a series or 10-20 minutes of a movie and then give up. Life is too short to watch crap. Altered Carbon barely held my curiosity, and didn’t really pay off in the end.
  • I guess the “I could be Blade Runner!!” visuals are pretty.

Conclusion: If you already like cyberpunk maybe try it, but I can’t recommend it.