Netflix Original: Altered Carbon

03 . Feb . 2018
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Altered Carbon is another big-ticket Netflix creation in the sci-fi niche. The series is bold, big and is a visual spectacle and promises to be an entertaining and engaging fare. Here’s our complete Altered Carbon review.

The streaming platforms are coming up with series that aren’t just about telling a story. Ever since its inception, Netflix has been working on giving grander, better and visually stunning content. Starting with the likes of Daredevil, Netflix has upped the ante for streaming. Now, it plans to give streaming it’s first original sci-fi series with Altered Carbon, and here’s our complete review of the series.

Altered Carbon is set in a futuristic world where the memories of a person be downloaded and put in another body. Of course, the story takes advantage of everything that this concept can exploit. So, you have sex, violence, sex and then more sex.

The story is this:

A rich man revives a mercenary, because the rich person wants to find out who’s behind his murder. There’s this lady police officer who’s not too happy having a mercenary in her town, the rich man’s wife is his promiscuous lady who’s getting down with everyone wearing pants, so on and so forth.

What’s Wow: Altered Carbon is a visual spectacle – no doubt about that. The directors have taken great pains to bring the futuristic world to our living rooms.  If anything, series like Altered Carbon will make the streaming eco-system only richer.

Users will no longer be content watching stuff on their phones or even older computers – they will need the biggest, most technically adept displays this side of the sun to really enjoy a web series like Altered Carbon.

After Daredevil, few web series have been successful in giving bone crunching, exquisite action sequences – that’s one thing that was sorely missing in the streaming world. With Altered Carbon, we at least have another addition to ‘web series with good action scenes’ list.

Suffice to say, Altered Carbon is the bold step taken by a streaming platform to make streaming more of a platform and less of a buzzword/bubble.

What’s Blah:  A fundamental principle is that bold steps can sometimes fumble and tumble. Sci-fi content is immensely difficult to write and a murder mystery more so. A script about a sci-fi murder mystery shouldn’t just be watertight and fool proof. The twists and turns should exist at every nook and corner and then some. Even with all that, the screenplay should be engaging and keep the audience hooked.

Somewhere, to add more layers to the characters, the screenplay feels it okay to add more dialogues between secondary and tertiary characters than have the main lead do some detecting. One problem with Altered Carbon is that it decides to tackle every aspect of memory transfer into human bodies. The series doesn’t just talk about how it can shatter moralities, it also ventures into the religious connotations of it all.

Altered Carbon is also confused about what it should be. A futuristic who-dunnit, a pulp action piece, or something that discusses morality, human weaknesses and other such things under the scope of a brave new world where’s everything’s possible and available.

The underlying tones aren’t ignored. Only the rich can carry out the process that’s central to the theme – like how the rich can pay money and get away with the sins of their past and start a new life all over again.

Most of the sequences talk about the differences between the world of the rich and the survival of the poor – so effectively differentiated right in the beginning, when the police officer and the revived mercenary travel form the low lands to the upper echelons where the rich reside.

Parting Shot: Altered Carbon is a good entrant into the sci-fi niche for streaming.


Joel Kinnaman, Renée Elise Goldsberry, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Dichen Lachman, Leonardo Nam, Chris Connor, Ato Essandoh, Trieu Tran, Hayley Law

Altered Carbon is now available on Netflix.

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