altered carbon trailer

One thing becomes immediately clear seconds into the new Altered Carbon trailer: Netflix put a lot of money into this series. It looks lavish and detailed, comparable to Game of Thrones and Westworld in terms of sheer scale (the pilot even boasts Thrones veteran Miguel Sapochnik as director). It also looks very silly, not helped by a miserable song choice that wants to sell this high-concept science fiction world to people who wouldn’t be caught dead with their nose in a sci-fi novel.

Altered Carbon Trailer

We’ve seen several trailers for Altered Carbon (which is based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Richard K. Morgan) and the show continues to look intriguing, if also fairly silly. The visuals are pure Blade Runner, borrowed straight from Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic (and not helped by the fact that the stunning Blade Runner 2049 came out just a few months ago), but as someone who has always wanted to spend more time in that neon-lit, rain-soaked dystopia, this footage does scratch a specific itch. However, the tone is a bit more ’90s action movie, with lots of tough guy dialogue, one-liners, and corny jokes.

What seems to differentiate Altered Carbon from Blade Runner is the core subject matter. Instead of telling a story about man-made artificial lifeforms (and whether those artificial lifeforms have rights), the focus here is transhumanism. In this future, human consciousness can be uploaded into computers and transferred into new bodies, which comes in handy when you need someone to solve your own murder and the best man for the job has been dead for 250 years.

This is not a new concept in the realm of science fiction (a great issue of the Vertigo comic book Transmetropolitan tackled it with a satiric edge years ago and it’s straight out of Netflix’s own Black Mirror, for starters), but this is the first time I’ve seen it at the center of something so shiny and clearly expensive. Altered Carbon is obviously a handsome show, but I hope it puts its ideas front and center, right next to the action that is so prominently highlighted in this footage.

The 10-episode first season of Altered Carbon will arrive on Netflix on February 2, 2018. Here’s the official synopsis:

In the distant future, human consciousness can be digitized and downloaded into different bodies. Brought back to life after 250 years by Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) the richest man on Earth, ex-Envoy soldier Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman / Will Yun Lee) must solve Bancroft’s attempted murder for the chance to live again in a world he doesn’t recognize.

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