Culture

Altered Carbon Takes Place in the Future. But It's Far From Progressive

Altered Carbon Takes Place in the Future. But It's Far From Progressive”

While Netflix has rarely betrayed a straight face when it comes to its own content (firmly in the volume vs. prestige camp, with numerous offerings built to satisfy a global audience, which means it rarely jumps up and down about series other than Stranger Things despite having plenty of quality), this series could very well end up being something completely different - even different than the streamer's Marvel franchises. Seemingly in anticipation of how complicated some of the show's ideas may be, Netflix has wisely put together this clever Altered Carbon featurette that explores the way the show deals with immortality.

Altered Carbon tells the story of a world wherein it has become possible to download your consciousness into "stacks", devices that can be placed in another body, called "sleeve" in the show. The class struggle of that dystopian sci-fi film carries over to the Netflix series, as wealthy folks - called "Meths", short for the extremely old Methuselah, because they can afford to live long by moving their stacks into younger sleeves - live above the clouds in lavish mansions while the poor toil below. Think that sounds cool and wonderful for everyone? The poor find themselves cast as eternal pawns, desperate for any sort of leg up or a better "sleeve".

We're introduced to this bleak, dystopian world through Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), a prisoner and former supersoldier (an "Envoy") with a sketchy past who is awoken from a 250-year-long sleep for one goal: to solve the mysterious murder of one of the city's wealthiest men, Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy). If Kovacs can solve the mystery, he gains his freedom. Takeshi Kovacs is the lone surviving soldier in a group of elite interstellar warriors who were defeated in an uprising against the new world order.

The world premiere of s "Altered Carbon" on February 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. And it probably will be a hit. Conceptually, in any case, Altered Carbon is a blockbuster - it's a sprawling spectacle that could go on for multiple seasons.

The 10-episode series is a very direct adaptation of the novel by showrunner Laeta Kalogridis. Though Kalogridis made some alterations from the book - including a bigger role for a female character.

Figuring things out is part of the allure of Altered Carbon, so there's little reason to spoil the conceptual architecture that floats the series. Altered Carbon features some horrific headshots, body and mental torture, and strong sexual violence. Dichen Lachman plays Reileen Kawahara. The show's opening credits, backdropped by a snake slithering up a naked woman's body, serve as a warning: this is a Bond-like pastiche that delivers the sex and violence of 007 without any of the style or substance. And against young women. The show didn't need to keep reminding us. It definitely helps to appreciate irony and the more lighthearted side of life when considering the final few scenes, and to help you survive some of the show's darker moments. But it is, and feels gratuitous.

It's hard to know at this stage what, if anything, Altered Carbon will have to say, but I'd argue just as well that there's a role in pop culture for works that introduce or at least remind the popular consciousness of important thought experiments. Unlike 2017's "Blade Runner 2049", which allowed its mystery to unfold inside its world, "Altered Carbon" lets its world swallow the narrative.

Altered Carbon also touches on clones (with a twist), physical augmentation (because our wimpy flesh isn't enough) and artificial intelligence.



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