Altered Carbon is a science-fiction cyberpunk web series based on the eponymous novel by English novelist, Richard K. Morgan.
The series premiered its first season of ten episodes on Netflix on February 2, 2018, and has since been renewed for a second season to be released on February 27, 2020.
The Netflix show has- for the most part- been successful with critics and fans, and has been nominated at the Saturn Awards as well as the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Here is what you should know about the show:
The main story takes place in the distant future when consciousness can be downloaded onto portable discs and loaded onto host bodies, essentially granting immortality.
A man by the name of Takeshi Kovacs is resurrected 250 years after his death for his skills as a mercenary. He perished with the rebellion forces called the Envoys during an uprising against the new world order.
The man who resurrected him is the aristocrat Laurens Bancroft. Bancroft is an extremely wealthy aristocratic big-wig who is mysteriously murdered. Seconds before he dies, he uploads his consciousness to a new host but remembers nothing of his killer.
He resurrects the mercenary Kovacs to get behind the killing in exchange for a new chance at life.
The Ensemble Cast
A series is only as good as its cast, and Altered Carbon has an ensemble cast of bona fide actors.
Joel Kinnaman played the lead, Takeshi Kovacs, in the first season of the show. Anthony Mackie takes up the mantle of Takeshi starting from the second season. Takeshi Kovacs is a mercenary and part of the rebel group The Envoys. He gets resurrected 250 years after his demise to solve the murder of a high-roller.
James Purefoy plays the aristocrat, Laurens Bancroft. When he gets mysteriously murdered, he is able to load his consciousness into a new body. He resurrects Takeshi Kovacs for his particular set of skills to help him get behind his murder.
Martha Cervantes plays Kristin Ortega, the lieutenant in the Bay City Police Department.
Dichen Lachman plays Reileen Kawahara, sister of Takeshi Kovacs. She follows in her brother's footsteps and joins the rebel group, the Envoys. She also seemingly joins her brother in the grave in the uprising in which Takeshi perishes.
Renée Elise Goldsberry plays Quellcrist Falconer, leader of the Envoys. She also dies in the uprising and appears in Kovacs' memories and hallucinations.
Critics and Fan Reactions
Altered Carbon has been received warmly by critics and fans. On IMDb, the first season holds a rating of 8.1/10, based on reviews by 115k users.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 68% based on 93 critics' reviews. The series is much warmly received by Rotten Tomatoes users and holds an approval rating of 90%.
The series holds a weighted average of 64 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
The show has also received a nomination at the 44th Saturn Awards in the Best New Media Television Series category. Additionally, it has also received multiple nominations at the 70th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, namely in the Outstanding Main Title Design and Outstanding Special Visual Effects categories.
It has also taken home the Outstanding Effects Simulations Award at the 17th Visual Effects Society Awards, in addition to being nominated in two other categories.
The critical consensus on the series maintains that the show is an achievement in visual effects and while the show is bogged down by the story, the overall series is a triumph.
Among the positive reviews were the reviews by Benjamin Lee, writing for The Guardian, who gave the show a 3/5 star, and praised the "sheer ambitious scale of it all."
Erik Kain, writing for Forbes said of the show:
"...but I can say without hesitation that it's a terrific show. Everything from the gorgeous production values to the excellent cast to the mystery-filled story and action-packed ultra-violence is amazing."
David Griffin, of IGN, was particularly taken with the series, and apart from giving the show a solid 8.8 out of 10, and praised the visual effects, the intricate plot while singling out Chris Conner's performance among the stellar cast.
There Will Be a Second Season
Fans worried about the show not meeting a resolution need not worry: the show has been renewed for a second season. Set to drop on Netflix on February 27, 2020, the eight-episode show will be led by Anthony Mackie stepping into the shoes of Takeshi Kovacs.
Other confirmed cast members include Renée Elise Goldsberry, Torben Liebrecht, Lela Loren, Simone Missick, and James Saito, among others.
The anticipation has never been higher than it is now, with Netflix dropping the first-look teaser at the second season on its YouTube channel on February 4, 2020.
The Show Inspired an Anime Spin-off
The success of the show spawned a spin-off anime series called Altered Carbon: Resleeved, which explores the same universe as the show and builds the lore around the main story.
The show will also premiere on Netflix sometime in 2020.
Why You Should Watch Altered Carbon
Altered Carbon is a science-fiction extravaganza with stunning visual effects, a dedicated and talented cast- all of whom give stellar performances, and an intriguing story with tension seeping throughout the show.
The first season has- while garnering a lukewarm critical response- achieved as close to a cult-status as it can get, and in a few years, might be looked at as such in hindsight.
Joel Kinnaman works as the lead and provides a gripping performance as the tortured anti-hero. James Purefoy also works as the sleazy and narcissistic big-wig, Laurens Bancroft.
The visual effects remain the unquestioned hero of the show, and the one topic of praise from almost all critics.
All in all, Altered Carbon has achieved all it has set out to achieve. A visual spectacle with a gripping plot and stellar performances, the show will not soon be forgotten.
With season 2 nearly upon us, what better time than now to get immersed in the world of Altered Carbon?