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Altered Carbonara

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:17 am UTC
by freezeblade
New show out on NetFlix: Altered Carbon.

I've made it through the first two episodes and so far I like it...with caveats.

Based off a 2000's novel by Richard K. Morgan, the story takes place in a sci-fi nior setting in far-flung cyber-punk future San Fransisco (now called "Bay City"). Visually it is stunning, taking more than a few clues from Ridely Scott, and a few nods to similarly-set sci-fi nior films and shows (Black Mirror comes to mind here as well). The world building is fantastic, and as with all good sci-fi, it uses advanced technology's advent as the tool with which we examine bigger questions in society and ethics. Bonus points for a diverse cast that doesn't shy away from cultural differences and how culture/religion affects society. A nice cast of writers and directors were used for different episodes, including people who worked on such shows as Doctor Who, Fargo, and Sherlock.

The caveats: Netflix took this 'R' rating seriously. Expect more sex and full frontal nudity (and did I mention sex?) than Game of Thrones (Dare I say that it's even more explicit). Violence and gore abound, and (I hear, haven't gone far enough in yet to see it) even some pretty graphic torture. I don't know if many of these scenes had to be quite that explicit (or long) to advance the storyline or explain characters, but that is a stylistic choice. Just don't watch it with children or your folks (Even more so than GoT).

Anyone else watching?

Re: Altered Carbon

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:33 pm UTC
by Zohar
I watched perhaps 20 minutes of the first episode and felt like it was so much all over the place that I couldn't actually concentrate on it. I'm not interested in a series of 30-second scenes, each one introducing new characters and concepts that I have no idea if I should care about. Also it kind of looks like the show immediately takes an Asian character and replaces them with a white character? Of course I haven't seen enough of it to know yet, they might have a deep statement about whitewashing, but I have my doubts.

Perhaps I was in the wrong mood for it, I was really unimpressed.

Re: Altered Carbon

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:13 pm UTC
by EdgarJPublius
Eh, Altered Carbon was by far my least favorite of the Takeshi Kovacs books.

They toned down or avoided the most gratuitously violent parts of the book for the show. I don't think It's as graphic as the earlier seasons of GoT.

I'm fine with it being toned down from the book though, I almost put the book down during a part that got cut from the show. But they also removed most of the actually interesting and unique parts of the book too. And it looks like if there's a second season, it's gonna go completely off the rails, and not in a good way.

@Zohar: Putting Takeshi in a white 'sleeve' is done in the books too. The specific body has plot significance that's revealed later (IIRC it was revealed a lot sooner in the book than the show). The show gives his original Asian body a lot of screen time through flashbacks though. On the other hand, the show puts multiple minority female characters into white male sleeves later on and I don't remember that happening as much in the books. I guess you could find a statement about whitewashing in there if you were looking for one hard enough.
It's been a while since I read the book, but I believe Takeshi spends the other two in the series in a non-biological synthetic sleeve, and a bio-engineered Maori sleeve.

I was a big fan of Dichen Lachman in Dollhouse and I hoped the Altered Carbon universe would give her a chance to do something similar. Unfortunately, they kind of ruined her character in the translation from book to show, and didn't really use her to the full potential she showed in Dollhouse. I feel that's kind of emblematic of the series. There was a lot of potential in the source material that was squandered, not through poor execution, but through shitty creative decisions.

The show wasn't bad, it just wasn't good either.

Re: Altered Carbon

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:34 pm UTC
by Izawwlgood
It gets a little heavy handed, and falls prey to the classic 'people don't communicate like adults and that drives the plot' issues that you see in some TV, but frankly, it deals with a lot of great sci fi concepts pretty well, and makes for an interesting whodunit even if the ultimate reveal is a little lackluster. I thoroughly enjoyed it, for all it's flaws.

Also, like, ALL the boobies.

Re: Altered Carbon

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:39 pm UTC
by nicholasbrooks
I thought it started out super strong but ended kinda slow. There were too many plot connections that didn't quite seem realistic.

Re: Altered Carbon

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:59 am UTC
by SecondTalon
I liked Poe. A lot.

Re: Altered Carbon

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:57 pm UTC
by freezeblade
SecondTalon wrote:I liked Poe. A lot.

Easily my favorite character.

Re: Altered Carbon

Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 5:28 am UTC
by Tyndmyr
Zohar wrote:I watched perhaps 20 minutes of the first episode and felt like it was so much all over the place that I couldn't actually concentrate on it. I'm not interested in a series of 30-second scenes, each one introducing new characters and concepts that I have no idea if I should care about. Also it kind of looks like the show immediately takes an Asian character and replaces them with a white character? Of course I haven't seen enough of it to know yet, they might have a deep statement about whitewashing, but I have my doubts.

Perhaps I was in the wrong mood for it, I was really unimpressed.


Kind of where I'm at with it. I need to go back and give it another shot, but I found myself wondering things like how it is that every movie/TV dude that wakes up in the future is a middle aged white guy with a ex-cop/military background, revived to deal with some future crime(when he has literally no useful context to deal with that crime), and hey, they already made Demolition Man, I can just go watch that....

But maybe I'm just bitter that they killed Almost Human.

Re: Altered Carbonara

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:54 am UTC
by Liri
Like Zohar, I was peeved, to put it mildly, that I was not going to get to watch a dramatic show with an Asian lead and that he was replaced with a white dude. To really grind it in, I can't stand that actor. I watched the first two episodes, and if I stop now, it'll probably be because of that.

It's pretty though.

Re: Altered Carbonara

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:35 pm UTC
by Ranbot
I finished watching this recently and it was just OK. I watched 5 episodes months ago, dropped it for a while and then came back to it to finish recently. It has some really high points and some really low points. A very gritty sci-fi world exploring the society-changing technology with plenty of action. I see commonalities to stuff like Blade Runner, Asimov's I Robot, Star Trek, Dune, Westworld (I haven't seen the new series yet) with Game of Thrones level violence and sex.

I loved the world.
freezeblade wrote:...takes place in a sci-fi nior setting in far-flung cyber-punk future ....

Yeah. I kept being reminded of Blade Runner.... and that's a very good thing. This melding of incredible technology into a very gritty and visceral world.

I loved the big sci-fi concepts in Altered Carbon. Like all great sci-fi it adds twists to the fundamental rules of life we would consider "normal" and explores the ripple effects of that change. The main twist Altered Carbon explores is an amazing concept...
Spoiler:
...technology allows people to pass their thoughts and consciousness to new bodies, so people no longer die and have little concern for the physical body. The effects of this change is huge and fascinating to explore.
(^^The spoiler tag is for absolute purists only, but is more of teaser of information learned by Episode 1) This twist influences every level of society from politics, economics, poverty, housing, laws, religion, war, crime, race, taboos, gender, and even the fundamental relationships between friends, family members, and spouses. This, the setting, and some good action scenes, is what carried me through the low-points of the series.

Now the bad part is the techno-magic is over-used and gets downright silly sometimes. There's always another magic gadget introduced with little to no explanation that conveniently solves or creates the problem of the episode or scene, which gets tiresome to me. Sometimes it seems like the techno-magic is there just for an excuse to create cool special effects or gratuitous violence/nudity/sex, like the writers/director have a case of ADD. The major series-defining sci-fi elements were plenty good enough to make an incredibly compelling story, without all the extra nonsense. There are some trope-heavy moments too. I understand they are following a series of books and it may all be within the "canon," but there were parts that got ridiculous to watch...IMO

Zohar wrote:...looks like the show immediately takes an Asian character and replaces them with a white character? Of course I haven't seen enough of it to know yet, they might have a deep statement about whitewashing, but I have my doubts.

As mentioned previously the Asian character is given a lot of screen time. The back-story of the Takeshi character is for more developed than the back story of the white Kovac character. Many characters through the show are switched between races and genders and treated in a way that could be seen as the opposite of whitewashing. People in Altered Carbon's world respond to physical characteristics like gender, race, age, tattoos, scars, etc. with about as much attention as they would to clothing. They respond to the thoughts and feelings of the person inside the body, which could be considered an ideal way people should respond to each other today. So, while I can see how it appears like whitewashing on the surface, particularly for a main character, it fits very well within the context of the entire show. If there's a racial bias element to Altered Carbon it's probably in the characters that...
Spoiler:
... portray the elite, ultra-wealthy, class who mostly very stereotypically white, but viewers probably won't have any positive feelings or empathy towards them.