"Gorgeous visuals and a genius core premise" - Critical round-up of Netflix Original, Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon is a bit of a looker. Blade Runner meets Black Mirror – and then some, according to our spoiler-free preview. But, beyond that, how is the actual show? The first reviews have gone up for your new Netflix binge and it isn’t just the neon decor which is buzzing: things look promising for the sci-fi show.

The series is bound to be one of those shows you endlessly discuss with your friends. A murder-mystery wrapped up in a spiralling web of flashbacks, immortality, and a pulsating backdrop, with Suicide Squad’s Joel Kinnaman playing the lead Takeshi Kovacs. So far, so very sci-fi… but what did the critics make of it? Read on to find out, and don’t worry, I’ve kept it spoiler-free. 

Altered Carbon's strong cast, fantastic setup, and unique world - Digital Spy

“Joel Kinnaman carries the show brilliantly (frequently while topless and in various states of excruciating pain). Kovacs' steely ‘I don't love anyone’ approach can border on one-note at times, much like Martha Higareda's Ortega being relentlessly no-nonsense, but it goes to demonstrate the power of a strong cast that this doesn't get in the way of the overall believability of this new and tech-driven world.... With strong performances, gorgeous visuals and a genius core premise, you can overlook its faults and enjoy plugging into the world of Altered Carbon.

How Altered Carbon compared to Blade Runner - The Metro (4/5)

“Fans of Blade Runner will take enormous pleasure in its highly-reminiscent dystopian city streets too; where poverty-stricken backstreets contrast with flashy holograms advertising seedy ‘Jerk It Off’ sex clubs and fight domes for battles to the ‘death’. Whereas Blade Runner was a relatively cold beast, Altered Carbon thrives on sexuality.”

Is Altered Carbon Netflix's best sci-fi show? - The Daily Dot

“Altered Carbon is one of Netflix’s latest prestige projects, replacing Sense8 in the category of big-budget science fiction. By comparison, it’s just not as good as it ought to be. While Sense8 was far from perfect, it was unique and weird and politically complex. Altered Carbon is nowhere near as ambitious, spending too much time rehashing noir tropes instead of exploring its sci-fi premise. It’s the longform equivalent of a respectable but intellectually lazy blockbuster. Beautiful production values and combat scenes, but nowhere near as smart and exciting as something like Westworld.”

A violent, complete package - The Quint

“The visceral violence and gore (beware, flesh will be gutted) will literally keep you on the edge of your seat. A certain recklessness and cynicism, makes Kovacs a badass sci-fi protagonist. With a blend of edgy writing and cyberpunk subversion, Altered Carbon makes for a hell of a show.”

Altered Carbon's damaging reliance on brutality - Gadgets360

“Unfortunately, neither the plot nor the action stay coherent for too long. The storyline keeps packing in event after event, subjecting people to repeated acts of violence (which in turn increases the action), but it's unable to get you to care for its characters, nor make much sense of what's going on. You'll be desensitised a few episodes in, and what makes it worse is that most of the action scenes are too much of the same thing. There is little ingenuity or any attempt to freshen up what is mindless bloodlust.”

Image: Netflix

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Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.