Netflix Review – The Girl with All the Gifts: A Semi-Original Take on Zombies

Children are the future, whether we want them or not.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Zombies! Well, technically, people infected by a special strain of the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus which causes them to mindlessly try to infect any living tissue called “hungries,” but they’re zombies, people. The only hope for humanity is in the half-breed second generation hungries that have kept their ability to think, but still crave flesh mindlessly if it’s around. They can be pacified by a blocker gel that masks human scent, and then behave normally. 

GWATG - 1Students
They seem to like school more than normal kids, though.

In England, Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn “Give her a f*cking Oscar, please” Close) runs a facility that is trying to study the second generation children and develop a vaccine to the fungus that caused the zombies. The facility is supervised by Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine) and the children are taught by Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton). The top student is Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a girl who appears to possess more creativity and intelligence than the other second-gen children. When the facility is breached, the group tries to make their way to a new base through a horde of zombies, with Melanie being humanity’s last hope.

END SUMMARY

So, some of you probably noticed from the description that this film sounds fairly similar to the video game The Last of Us, particularly the fact that the zombies were caused by the Ophiocordyceps fungus spreading to humans and that a young infected girl is our only hope. I won’t deny that there are a lot of similarities… to the point that we see a number of overgrown buildings in one shot that make me feel a lot like the setting of the game and that sneaking is how most of the characters avoid the zombies. However, it’s a completely different type of narrative playing out and let’s not pretend that most zombie films don’t steal settings or rules from other stories. 

GWATG - 2Blood
Ellie didn’t usually have to wear a mask for safety.

A big part of why The Girl With All The Gifts works is that the story is solid. It’s not just using zombies as a metaphor (although they are used that way, as most good zombie films do), it’s also telling a story of a child growing up in a world that seems to be without hope. Melanie is constantly looked down upon by almost everyone around her due to the fact that she is part zombie (and she can’t control her urges very well if they kick in), but she still tries to do her best to please those she cares about. There is a running debate in the film as to whether she is actually human or just a fungus that presents as human, and it clearly weighs on many of the characters. It adds an interesting question on the nature of humanity that is answered differently than you might expect. 

GWATG - 3Helen
Would you protect a child that also might eat you?

The performances are also top-notch around the board. Glenn Close may not be in the kind of film that she usually thrives in, but she’s still a superb actress. I’ll acknowledge that I get a large amount of satisfaction from watching a seven-time Oscar nominee kill a zombie, as well. Paddy Considine’s performance is amazingly nuanced, despite the fact that he originally presents as a stock character. Gemma Arterton manages to similarly play a person who is managing, despite everything she witnesses, to treat Melanie like a human being. You can feel that she really loves the girl, but also that she knows the weight of the situation. Sennia Nanua is amazing in this, despite her young age. She manages to portray a bright, inquisitive, but also feral and ruthless child, depending on the scene. Just terrific acting all around.

GWATG - 4LAstOfUs
… Yes, this definitely is not The Last of Us. Definitely not.

Overall, if you’re a fan of Zombie movies, you probably need to watch this. I really thought it was well done.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – Love Is Blind: I Hate That I Liked This

This show is trash, but it is absolutely the best kind of trash.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

30 men and women who state they’re ready to get married were selected for this reality show “experiment.” The premise is that the men and women would each go into “pods” opposite from each other. They would then speed-date with each other while not being able to see the other person. They would then pick the people they like, and if two people match, they continue to date in the “pods” until the men (yeah, it’s implied only the guys can make the decision) decide to propose. Of the 30 people, 16 got engaged. Of the 16, 12 got covered on the show. Those couples then have 40 days to move in with each other, introduce their new fiancé to their family, and then get married. It’s a built-in “will they, won’t they” narrative!

LoveIsBlind - 1Lacheys
Also, it’s hosted by Vanessa and Nick Lachey. 

END SUMMARY

If you recall my review of 90 Day Fiancé, I’m not the biggest fan of this kind of reality show. In fact, I think it leads to a ton of people entering into relationships that are based on lies or shallow feelings and then makes it more complicated for them to get out of those relationships. This show… well, has some of that, but it also fortunately didn’t include the mass competitive pressure of The Bachelor/ette or the literal threat of deportation of 90 Day Fiancé. This show has apparently been compared to another show called Married at First Sight (which I just found out is on its tenth season and I’m dying inside), but those couples are based on essentially arranged marriages, as opposed to this show where the couples make the choices on who they want. So, I feel less guilty for liking this one.

LoveIsBlind - 2Pods
The pods have couches and booze, which makes this whole thing much nicer.

The show frequently emphasizes that their premise is basically just normal speed-dating but without the element of seeing people, so that age, looks, and race are secondary to the personality of the other person. Since all of the contestants stated that they were looking to get married, the repeated speed dating and conversations are more direct and pointed than they might have otherwise been. The one thing that I do wish they’d do is show more of the failed dates. Due to the sheer amount of people involved and the fact that so many of them ended up engaged (6 more couples than expected, 3 more couples than they even budgeted for on the outside), almost all of the footage is of couples that end up getting engaged. I’m not saying that I want to see a bunch more guys getting shot down for terrible lines or shitty personalities, but I absolutely do. 

LoveIsBlind - 3Mark
Come on, who else was interested in Mark? TELL US!!!!

The thing that the show has been, and should be, criticized for is that all of the people on the show are pretty much great looking. The ugliest people on it are still “TV Ugly,” which is real life above-average. Since the premise of the show is that looks don’t matter, it rings a little more hollow when almost everyone is attractive. Still, it’s not like that’ll take you out of it.

LoveIsBlind - 4Cast
Seriously, the cast was all 7 or above out of 10.

Like most reality shows, you might feel a little dirty while watching this. You’re watching people during their relationships, you’re hearing them forced to comment on uncomfortable issues, and you’re aware the entire time that you can’t tell which things are legitimate issues and which are scripted or cleverly edited so that it’s more exciting. Several of the couples seem to repeatedly have spontaneous disagreements or issues that almost certainly were more gradual than they appear. However, pretty much all of the history of Western theater is a testament to one of the saddest facts about humanity: We love watching other people’s drama and we love it more when it’s the stuff we wouldn’t normally see. Quite a few of the lines and quips in this show are definitely things we would never find out about our friends or family members, which makes us feel like we’re witnessing something taboo and that’s exciting. 

LoveIsBlind - 5Amber
I mean, public displays of affection are usually frowned upon.

In counter to all of that, it’s also interesting to see the couples, or sometimes only half of the couples, so quickly develop what appear to be genuine feelings for each other in such a short time and that kind of gives you a feeling that there is something inherently beautiful in watching the birth of a love between two people. 

Given that everyone is stuck at home right now, I’m going to encourage you to embrace your inner love of trashy shows and watch this show over the next week. I’m going to do a breakdown of each of the six couples that got engaged in spoiler-heavy reviews over the next 3 weeks (2 couples/week).

THE FACELESS OLD WOMAN WHO LIVES ON MY SOFA

I don’t watch a lot of reality shows, but this show is definitely entertaining to watch, and discuss with friends which couples you’re rooting for and which are definitely not going to make it to the altar. The first part of the show in the pods is the most novel part, and does some exploration into the possibility of falling in love with someone you’ve never seen but have long, intense discussions. (Spoiler: it’s very possible.) My main problem with the premise of the show is the “is love blind” question gets somewhat derailed by the very short timeline of the show. You can argue the fact that all these people taking time off from their jobs and lives to shoot the show counts as more time than the real world would allow, but even so, 40 days is fast. Reality shows are all about doing it on a budget, so I presume it wasn’t affordable for the show to shoot for months or years, which would be a more appropriate timeline of a courtship that leads to a marriage. However, as a result the post-vacation part of the show is not so much asking “is love blind?” as “can you marry someone you’ve only known for the month?” It provides for some fun drama but isn’t quite as interesting. (The answer is: you all know at least one couple that this sort of abbreviated timeline worked for. But only one.)

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Ozark (Seasons 1-3): The Best-Acted Crime Drama on Television

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star as a couple who are forced to work for a drug cartel.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free for Season 3)

Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) is a financial advisor who has been laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. His partner Bruce (Josh Randall) is caught skimming millions of dollars. Facing his own execution, Marty tells the cartel that he has a plan to launder millions of dollars in the Ozarks. The cartel gives him a short time to replace all of the money that Bruce stole, so Marty moves with his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and his children Charlotte and Jonah (Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner) to the Ozarks and sets up buying properties to launder money. He hires local criminal family member Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner), is pursued by FBI agents Petty and Evans (Jason Butler Harner and McKinley Belcher III), and tries to work with local drug growers Jacob and Darlene Snell (Peter Mullan and Lisa Emery). Eventually Marty and Wendy set up a casino in the Ozarks to increase the amount they can launder.

Ozark - 1Byrdes
That feeling when you have to launder money in the middle of nowhere or die.

END SUMMARY

I should start by saying that I was almost certainly going to like any show that included both Jason Bateman and Laura Linney in the cast. I think that they are both unbelievably good dramatic performers who also can deliver killer laughs when the occasion calls for it. Putting them together in a dark crime drama allows for a wide range of performances, including playing very strongly into Bateman’s deadpan comedy moments that he did so well on Arrested Development

Ozark - 2Byrdes
He’s a much better father on this than Arrested Development

However, even though they are both amazing, the supporting cast in this show really brings it to another level. Julia Garner’s performance as the abused outcast of her redneck crime family is phenomenal, as is Janet McTeer’s performance as Helen Pierce, the cartel’s ruthless attorney who shows up in Season 2. Everyone has very well defined motives and watching all of them interact never ceases to create amazing scenes. 

Ozark - 3Julia
She’s just the right level of redneck. 

The writing and pacing of the show are both amazing. The show frequently escalates the stakes and changes the status of the characters, but it always feels appropriate and organic. Similar to Breaking Bad, we see the members of the Byrde family forced to take greater and greater measures to protect themselves from the cartel and the FBI, but we also see that they start to enjoy aspects of the dangerous lifestyle. 

If you haven’t checked it out, I recommend it strongly.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Season 1)

Netflix releases an anime set in a generic fantasy world.

SUMMARY

A while ago, the gods descended from the heavens in order to have a fun time. They limited their powers so that they could experience the world more like mortals, but choose mortals to empower who join their groups, called “familias.” A number of them set up in the town of Oraria, located next to the entrance to an underground labyrinth creatively called the Dungeon. The goddess Hestia (Inori Minase/Luci Christian), unfortunately, only has one member of her familia, a young man named Bell Cranel (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryson Baugus). Despite being a level 1 adventurer (yes, they have levels), Bell falls in love with the powerful swordswoman Ais Wallenstein (Saori Onishi/Shelley Calene-Black). Unbeknownst to Bell, his crush actually causes him to develop the rare skill Learis Freese, which makes his strength grow rapidly. Bell soon tries to win Ais’s attention while making the Hestia Familia the best. He’s later joined by helper Lilliluka Arde (Maaya Uchida/Hilary Haag) and armor smith Welf Crezzo (Yoshimaasa Hosoya/David Wald).

IsItWrong - 1Hestia
The one on the right who looks like a super-endowed teenager is the immortal goddess.

END SUMMARY

Someone advised me to check this anime out and, as I’m a nerd, I get why. This show pretty much follows the classic RPG rules, including the characters actually having stat blocks involving their strength, dexterity, etc. You get experience from slaying monsters, which allows you to raise your stats, which allows you to slay bigger monsters, rinse and repeat. When you kill monsters, they release magical crystal shards (because why not?), which can be sold or used to craft magical items. Monsters get stronger the deeper you go in the dungeon with “bosses” every few floors. However, sometimes monsters can make their way closer to the surface, which means that it’s important to keep a supply of strong adventurers going deeper and deeper in order to keep the population of strong monsters lower. There are also “free levels” where there are no monsters, just to keep it fair. Like I said, it’s basically just a traditional JRPG.

IsItWrong - 2Minotaur
Additionally, the “boss” monsters that almost kill you later are the things you easily destroy.

The thing that’s supposed to make it interesting is that it is more of a character-driven comedy than an adventure series. Bell is extremely awkward when around Ais, which is sometimes amusing, but completely oblivious to the fact that a number of other women around the town are attracted to him. It’s a fairly typical harem structure that Anime has adopted since Ranma ½ and Tenchi Muyo helped popularize it. The problem is that most of the characters here are just way too generic to make it work. There’s nothing about their personalities or characters that really feel unique to this show. In Ranma ½, characters would have descriptions like “Martial Arts cross-dressing chef who fights with a giant spatula.” Here, the description is “protagonist with a crush and tragic backstory.” Yes, the idea of literal gods and goddesses roaming the Earth and having competing teams is fun, but there aren’t really any stakes to anything involving it, so it doesn’t help much. 

IsItWrong - 3Lili
She’s a catgirl who can carry a big backpack, but that’s still somehow not compelling.

Overall, the monster and world designs were fun, and the elements that involved actual dungeon-crawling were entertaining, but I just couldn’t get into it. If you are a big anime person, you might like this, but I just didn’t care about any of the people. The series is apparently based on a bunch of light novels, so maybe those are better.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – The Platform (El Hoyo): It’s Not Subtle (Ending Explained)

A new Sci-Fi Dystopian Prison film comes out of Spain and it’s brutally honest and honestly brutal. 

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Goreng (Iván Massagué) is an intellectual who volunteers to be sent to “The Pit,” an experimental prison, for 6 months. He brings a copy of Don Quixote with him and is told that, upon his release, he’ll be given a degree. Once inside, he finds out that the prison consists of a single vertical array of rooms with a large hole in the middle, with 2 prisoners in each room. His roommate, Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor), explains that food comes down from the top on a single platform and each floor of the prison eats off of it in order. Floor 1 eats ravenously, but the lower floors often don’t get anything. Moreover, everyone only gets randomly reassigned every month. Survival is king.

Platform - 1First
Cinematography is clearly a prince.

END SUMMARY

This was last year’s Midnight Madness winner at the Toronto International Film Festival, whose past winners include such films as The Raid, What We Do In the Shadows, and Seven Psychopaths, so that’s an award that’s usually worth looking into. This film is no exception. It mostly works for two reasons: 

Platform - 2SevenPsychopaths
Any award that recognizes Tom Waits holding a bunny is a good award.

First, it’s incredibly minimalist, typically featuring no more than three characters on screen at any given time, and almost always just two. Because of this, the quality of the dialogue and the performances is crucial, since a lot of the film is just the characters talking. Fortunately, Massagué gives an amazing performance, going from naive to panicked to nihilist to messianic as the situation requires. Eguileor’s character is much more consistent, always seeming to be a polite, charming, even funny individual who nevertheless exudes an air of menace. Their interactions manage to carry much of the film.

Platform - 3Eguilor
Yes, a guy reading Don Quixote with a knife is somewhat charming.

Second, the premise is amazing. It’s extremely simple and basically begs to be implied intuitively as a metaphor. The movie repeatedly emphasizes that, if everyone only ate what they needed, there would be enough food for everyone. Additionally, every prisoner is aware that, at almost any time, they could be either at the top or at the bottom, completely at the whims of a seemingly random system that clearly has no concern for their welfare. Despite that, the people at the top take advantage of their position and gorge and the people at the bottom starve to death. So, a system where everyone could be equitable and live happily or a few people can thrive at the expense of the people below them. I’m not saying it’s a giant metaphor for society, but… well, it’s a giant metaphor for society. 

Platform - 4Table
This is how the table starts. 

I’ll warn you that the movie is a hard-R with nudity and a lot of gross stuff featured, but if that is something you can stomach, I really recommend this movie. 

**** ENDING EXPLAINED (Spoilers) ****

So, quick recap:

After the first month, Goreng and Trimagasi end up on Floor 171, where Goreng and Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay) kill Trimagasi before he can eat Goreng. Goreng then ends up on Floor 33 with Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan), who worked for the company that made the Pit. She says there are 200 floors. They end up getting put on floor 202 next, where she kills herself so that Goreng can eat her body. Goreng then ends up on Floor 6 with Baharat (Emilio Buale Coka), a zealot who is trying to escape the prison, but is thwarted by the people on the above floors. Goreng convinces Baharat to ride the platform down to feed all of the people who would normally starve. On the way down, they encounter Sr. Brambang (Eric Goode, but not the one who made Tiger King) who advises them that feeding people will not change the system. First, they have to try and convince people to change, only enacting violence if they refuse to voluntarily change. Second, they need to realize that the administration will never change the system, but the people on floor 0, the ones who feed the prisoners, they could change it. Systems are cold and unfeeling, but people can be brought to empathize. So, they should send a dish back to level 0, untouched, to show that the people in the prison are, indeed, people, and not animals. That they have self-control and dignity. So, they select a Panna Cotta to send back up.

Platform - 5PannaCotta
I admit that I really want to eat that.

However, they discover that the prison is deeper than even Goreng had estimated, ending on floor 333 (halfway to 666, or Hell), where a small girl is found, despite Imoguiri saying that there were no children in the facility. It’s implied to be Miharu’s daughter who she kept riding down the platform for, although Imoguiri’s statement about her background contradicts it. Given that most of Imoguiri’s information was wrong, it’s very possible that the child was Miharu’s. As Miharu supposedly threw a body down the shaft and then rode the platform down every month, it’s possible that the only reason that the child survived was that Miharu rode down every month with a mostly full platform to feed her. Since Miharu died this time, she couldn’t get down. They end up feeding the girl the panna cotta then, after Baharat dies, Goreng puts her on the platform to return to Floor 0. He sees an image of Trimagasi and walks off into the darkness under the facility. 

Platform - 6Child
Good light and shadow work, sad that I CAN’T SCREENSHOT NETFLIX.

So, what happens at the end of the movie? Well, he sends the girl as the message, because proving that the people in the facility could keep a child alive shows that they are human better than the panna cotta could have. He doesn’t need to go with her, because sending him, particularly in the state that he is in and after all the things he did, will ruin the message. He’s no longer innocent or pure, unlike the child. While the child cannot convince the system to change, showing that such an innocent figure is being tormented by the system stands a high chance of reminding the people on Floor 0 to change things. The platform has to go past floor 333 first, allowing Goreng to walk off into the underground, implied to be his death as Trimagasi is no longer just a vision, but next to him. 

Platform - 7Ending
He’s not quite dead yet, though, or he wouldn’t be bloody.

Metaphorically, it means that Goreng realizes that you can’t fix things just by helping people within the system, and you can’t actually fight “The System” because it doesn’t have a conscious to be changed. Instead, the only way to make change is to appeal to the humanity in those who run it.

Overall, I appreciate that the film actually gives a solution, rather than just saying “things are really shitty.” As to whether I think it’s a real option, that’s a separate issue. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Tiger King: It’s Grrrrr-reat!

Seriously, this might be the best documentary I’ve ever seen.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Joe Exotic gained notoriety in 2016 when he was covered by John Oliver as a 3rd party candidate for President. His video introduction is below. I recommend it for everyone not at work.

Yes, there is Joe Exotic. The polygamous, polyamorous, broke, gay, kinky-sex loving, drug using, gun-toting, big-cat-raising redneck who wants to run the USA. If you skipped the video and just read that description, I bet you’re intrigued. Well, so was everyone else. Then, everyone was surprised… or not… by Joe Exotic being arrested for hiring a person to murder one of his rival big cat rescue owners. This story is ostensibly about Joe Exotic’s downfall, but it’s so much more than that.

END SUMMARY

I can only imagine that Rebecca Chaiklin and Eric Goode, the filmmakers behind this must be the luckiest people in the industry. After the first series of conversations and interviews with the people involved in this story, the documentarians must have gone home, popped every bottle of wine, and toasted to finding the most absolutely insane group of people that were not just willing, but yearning, to confess their sins on camera.

TigerKing - 1Joe
I mean… this man is clearly all you ever wanted in a subject.

When I started the series, I had imagined it would be a slow build up towards the presidential campaign and the eventual murder-for-hire trial that brought Joe Exotic to national news. I could not possibly have known that those are nowhere near the most insane stories contained in this documentary. While Joe is the focus of the show, it’s really the fact that everyone involved in his industry is, for lack of a better term, bat-sh*t crazy. Every episode just reveals another, more insane layer of the story. There is no slow build, it starts off with a heavy dose of eccentricity, quickly dives to madness, and swims around in the demented pool of the Big Cat culture until you’re almost questioning your own reality because you share it with these people.

TigerKing - 2Carole
Keep your eyes on her.

This show is, hands down, the best documentary I’ve seen, because it features not only a cast of colorful characters, but an amount of archive footage and evidence that make you feel like you were living through all of the bombshells which have been detonated around Joe Exotic. I cannot stress how much you need to see this show if you have any interest in trashy television. I lost track of time watching it, because it just keeps drawing you deeper down this rabbit hole of Tigers, drugs, cults, murder, and depravity.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Altered Carbon: Resleeved – Honor Matters Little to Immortals

Takeshi Kovacs is back and hired to protect a Yakuza’s tattoo artist. 

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Taking place a year after Season 1, Holly Togram (Ayaka Asai) is being chased by a number of Yakuza members and ninjas before she finds herself saved by a recently resleeved Takeshi Kovacs (Tatsuhisa Suzuki). It’s revealed that Holly is a sacred tattoo artist to the Mizumoto syndicate, a Yakuza group. Takeshi has been awakened by Tanaseda Hideki (Kenji Yamauchi), a Yakuza boss from Harlan’s World (setting of the first and second season of Altered Carbon), who wants Takeshi to protect Holly and investigate the death of Tanaseda’s younger brother who was involved in the Mizumoto syndicate. It’s revealed that the Mizumoto group was founded by Tanaseda’s father. Genzo (Kouji Ishii), the current head of the group, explains that he is preparing to die permanently. The only way that the Mizumoto syndicate preserves its honor is by having the stacks belonging to their leaders destroyed permanently when they have finished their time and their successor takes over. Holly is the only one who can apply the sacred tattoos to the new head, Shinji (Kanehira Yamamoto). Complicating everything is that undercover CTAC agent Gena (Rina Satou) is investigating the syndicate and she has a history with Takeshi.

AlteredCarbonResleeved - 1Gun
This time he’s a bit more augmented than even his normal version. 

END SUMMARY

When I first saw this, since it wasn’t part of the current Netflix series, I was hoping that this film might just be another story from the same universe unrelated to Takeshi Kovacs. There are a lot of things we know about the people who live in the Altered Carbon society which would make for interesting stories besides just “action/mystery.” Instead, it’s basically season 1.5 of the series, so if you like the series, you’ll like this. 

AlteredCarbonResleeved - 2Ninjas
Or if you like bulletproof ninjas.

The art style of the film is similar to the Netflix Anime Kengan Ashura, which is 3D animation with heavy shading and lines, but it’s a lot cleaner due to being a film. The character designs are more distinctly Eastern than much of the live-action series, which correlates with the fact that the story involves a Yakuza and has a Japanese production team. Since the future is more culturally integrated, it is interesting to see a planet which stresses connections to their heritage. 

AlteredCarbonResleeved - 3City
Although from the outside it’s just Blade Runner.

The plot is actually pretty compelling, more in line with the first season of the series, while the action sequences are more science-fiction and intense like the second season. The voice acting is better in the sub than the dub, so unlike some of Netflix’s other anime, I am going to say it makes a difference. Also, while Poe is unfortunately not in this series, he’s replaced by the Ogai (Jouji Nakata) AI, who is also extremely entertaining.

AlteredCarbonResleeved - 4Blood
There’s a lot of sex and blood, don’t worry.

The element of the movie that I liked the most was the concept that Honor requires mortality. In the series, we see that many of the characters who are wealthy and powerful live for hundreds of years (potentially longer, but they haven’t had the technology long enough). Naturally, without the fear of actual death, these people start to devolve morally, viewing things like fidelity as pointless because eventually all emotional connections start to fade. Thus, the Yakuza, who rely on a sense of intrinsic honor to justify their practices, have to have leaders that die.

Overall, if you liked Altered Carbon, you’ll like this. You don’t need to be super familiar with the series to watch it, so if you haven’t seen it, you can still give this a try. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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