Altered Carbon [SPOILER FREE] Review: The Netflix Sci-Fi Adaptation We Needed

Altered Carbon: The Netflix Sci-Fi Adaptation We Needed

Posted by January 23, 2018 Comment

We’ve been talking a lot this year already about the incredible slate of science fiction television coming our way, making 2018 the Chrome Age of television. One of the leaders of this pack hasn’t even aired yet, and we can’t stop thinking about it.

A breathtaking view of the city of San Francisco from the futuristic world of Netflix’s Altered Carbon season 1

Altered Carbon is a Netflix drama series adapted from the series of books by Richard K. Morgan that brings the worlds of Blade RunnerGhost in the ShellJames Bond, and Star Trek together with a slick noir narrative that makes it an instant modern classic. Oh, there’s also the odd Edgar Allan Poe influence, too.

There is FTL space travel, there is hardcore science fiction in the form of downloading human consciousness into a small disc (called stacks) which can be implanted into a new body (called skins), and there is a pretty good whodunnit murder mystery at the core of the show.

Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs in ‘real time’

The story follows main character Takeshi Kovacs (played in flashbacks by Will Yun Lee and real-time by Joel Kinnaman)an elite forces soldier Envoy and freedom fighter, now a prisoner of the state, who wakes up 250 years after being arrested in a new body with one chance to win his freedom: solving the murder of affluent Laurens Bancroft (played by James Purefoy).

Takeshi Kovacs and Reileen Kawahara from a flashback sequence

Season 1 is rife with incredible visual effects and world building. Netflix continues to up their game, and for this particular series the immersive futuristic San Francisco balanced with the nature of Harlan’s World are breathtaking. The digital realm the characters visit is also astounding in its cohesive feel and presentation.

Agent Ortega and Takeshi

The cast is varied and fabulous — the shared role of Takeshi seems well suited to both Will and Joel, each actor bringing the same sense of purpose with individual flare. Martha Higareda plays police officer Kristin Ortega, whose relationship to the skin (body) Takeshi wakes up in is as complicated as the main narrative. She is fierce and complex, her character a breath of fresh air in the genre.

There are strong women galore in Altered Carbon, too. With the multitude of gunfights and hand-to-hand combat scenes, the women of the cast really shine.  Kristin Lehman is Marion Bancroft, wife of Laurens, who has her own mysterious agenda that slowly unfolds during the season. Dichen Lachman plays Takeshi’s sister Reileen Kawahara, and is just as badass and motivated as her brother. Renee Elise Goldsberry plays revolution leader and combat trainer  Quellcrist “Quell” Falconer, the mastermind behind the freedom fighters.

Altered Carbon season 1 is a helluva start for any series, pulling zero punches and immediately submerging the audience in the universe. It definitely holds the promise of a fascinating series to come. (That means we REALLY want additional seasons, Netflix!) Look for it on Netflix starting at midnight (PST) on Friday, February 2nd.

(Last Updated January 23, 2018 4:20 pm )

Related Posts

About Mary Anne Butler

Bleeding Cool News Editor Mary Anne Butler (Mab, for short) has been part of the fast-paced world of journalism since she was 15, getting her start in album reviews and live concert coverage for a nationally published (print) music magazine. She eventually transitioned to online media, writing for such sites as UGO/IGN, ComicsOnline, Geek Magazine, Ace of Geeks, Aggressive Comix (where she is still Editor-in-Chief), and most recently Bleeding Cool.



Over the past 10 years, she’s built a presence at conventions across the globe as a cosplayer (occasionally), photographer (constantly), panelist and moderator (mostly), and reporter (always). 



Interviews, reviews, observations, breaking news, and objective reporting are the name of the game for the founder of Harkonnen Knife Fight, a Dune-themed band with an international presence. 



Though she be but little, she is fierce. #MabTheProfessional

View All Posts