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ALTERED CARBON (LOGAN AT THE MOVIES)

When I first saw the trailer for “Altered Carbon” I was immediately hooked, but what I didn’t expect was several shots of male rear nudity in the trailer. Unfortunately Netflix has become the

next HBO/CINEMAX, like many R/TV-MA shows or movies they rarely give them the RED BAR trailer warning. So naturally I waited till VidAngel filtered it.

In an interview the man in charge stated “Our worst instincts as human beings have to do with our carelessness with natural resources, and when the body itself becomes just one more of those resources, how will we treat it? In a world in which bodies are interchangeable, what does nudity even matter? It’s not really “you” being seen naked–it’s just your sleeve. Depending on how wealthy you are, it might not even be the one you were born in–or even a real human body, since synthetic sleeves are also a thing.

 

In “Altered Carbon,” death is avoidable but it can still happen. Physical bodies are purely “sleeves,” used for hosting “cortical stacks,” futuristic storage devices that hold your memories and consciousness. While your sleeve dies your stack (as long as it still works) can easily be moved over to a different sleeve. They plug into slots at the back of your neck, in a nod to “The Matrix.” This of course explores how it would take hold of the gap between the rich and the poor. It’s also an interesting study of the possibilities of where digital consciousness could eventually go.

 

As we start to follow Takeshi Kovacs, a ex-rebel who’s awakened, 250 years after his last sleeve died, in a new body (played by Joel Kinnaman). He’s sucked in by a wealthy, Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), who needs help solving his own murder. Trippy, right, at that point, we see yet more benefits of the super-rich. Bancroft can actually back up his mind to a secure satellite; he can also download himself into clones of his original body, providing true immortality.

 

In “Blade Runner”, we explored our humanity through cyborgs with limited life spans. “Blade Runner 2049” went even deeper, giving us a cyborg lead that might be more human than he thinks. “Altered Carbon” does borrow in its similarity too “Ghost in the Shell” as well but its depiction of a world where humans no longer fear death seems just as meaningful. Futurists like Ray Kurzweil theorize that we’ll eventually be able to upload our minds to computers, which would grant us a sort of digital immortality. Of course, doing so requires us to fully understand how our minds work, which we’re nowhere near grasping yet.

 

Religious groups in “Altered Carbon” are naturally against it granted something as astounding as living forever should be considered a miracle? This is just briefly touched on.

 

The race issue is never brought up either granted we’re introduced to Kovacs in his original Asian body, but he never comments on being rebooted into the body of a white man. Still we do get a good chunk of time with Kovacs’ two Asian sleeves, played by Byron Mann and Will Yun Lee, and the show has a diverse supporting cast as well. If the whole body swap thing was a thing it would be an interesting topic regarding race and gender for sure, the show gives us glimpses we see a young girl who ends up being rebooted into the body of an old woman, and a grandmother who finds herself in the body of a tattooed gangster bro.

 

“Altered Carbon’s” take on VR is a throw back to “The Matrix”. Opening up a new realm for adult activities, it also gives way to pain. Virtual torture ends up being as effective as the real thing even more so, since you could go through the experience of being killed over and over. VR could also be seen as a form of prison for any conscious being. One subplot in the show involves a character who goes through the trauma of being killed and whose digital psyche ends up being broken in the process.

The notable supporting cast includes (Martha Higareda) as the beautiful Lt. Kristin Ortega she’s the cop tailing and assisting Kovacs who also has a mean streak to her, (Chris Conner) is the comedic AI Poe runs a hotel also assist Kovacs and then theirs (Ato Essandoh) as Vernon Elliot a ex-military man bent on bringing his daughter back from her virtual prison. The show, based on Richard Morgan’s novel is gorgeous, crammed with appealing actors and seems to draw off “Blade Runner” with its noir-syfy feel.

 

NOW STREAMING ON VIDANGEL

TV-MA strong graphic violence, sexuality/nudity and some drug use

Rating

IMDB 8.5/10

Tomatometer 63/92

I give it A+

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