One silver lining to this pandemic has been a lot of binge watching of Sci-Fi series , which I never made the time for: Altered Carbon (Netflix), DEVS (FX HULU), Electric Dreams (Amazon Prime), Tales From The Loop (Amazon Prime). Prospect (NetFlix). Then there are the foreign film SciFi series, which are sophisticated, beautifully cast and acted that they leave me acclimating afterwards: Omniscient (Netflix – Brazilian), Dark (Netflix – German), , Ad Vitam (NetFlix – French), Better Than US (Netflix – Russian), and Kiss Me First (Netflix – UK) & BioHackers (NetFlix – German). JEUNG_E (Netflix – South Korean). Watch out Hollywood, K-SCI-FIs are leaving you in the dust. I will even add in here, The Squid Games, which is weirdly addicting and the reason it was watched by more people on Earth than any other series.
Altered Carbon (Richard K Morgan) was a great novel: inventive, strong and well defined characters, clever plot to the end, and felt like re-sleeving could easily happen in our future. The read can be a little difficult due to the re-sleeving (same character in multiple bodies) and the first person narrative tripped me up as to who was who. But the novel was one of my all-time-favorites.
I have found that more often than not, the screen version of a novel is never as good. I have an exception: The Nextflix version of Altered Carbon is better than the book. The series is brilliant, the casting awesome, but above all, the CGI brought to life some of the best depictions of future tech I have seen on the big screen. As a writer, I learned a lot from watching this series. Season 1 was extraordinary and followed the original book closely. Season 2 was great, Season 3 less great. All in all, an ideal candidate for binge watching.
DEVS caught my eye because of the cast, most notably, Sonoya Mizuno, who played the part of Kyoko in Ex Machina, and Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation). A mind blowing concept with superb acting and cinematography makes this to the top of my list. The social aspect of this story is something to pay attention to–right up there with GTP (Generative Pre-trained Transformer)
But then along comes, DARK (NETFLIX). First and foremost, this series must we watched in its original language (German) and subtitled if you do not know German. Please… Please do not watch the dubbed version. I needed the subtitles. I know, I know… I have friends who refuse to watch subtitled movies. The funny thing about subtitles is that it takes approximately five to seven minutes for your brain and eyes to adapt, just as it does to view a night sky. My friends who hate subtitled movies have one thing in common…. they bailed out before their mind and eyes could adapt. After ten minutes, you don’t realize you are reading anything, yet you understood everything said.
But be patient with this series. It took me six episodes to begin to understand what was happening, but I was not alone–the characters were as confused as I was. But what makes up for this confusion is the cinematography, the lives, relationships and emotions they are going through. At the root of the plot is Good vs. Evil (that is not a spoiler alert). What is new is that you don’t know which side is good or evil or are they both good or both evil or non of the above? And just as you think you have it all figured out… guess what? You say, WTF! This is a study of time travel to the Nth degree; each episode is a peel-back of concepts and then you begin to understand––
And then there is Ad Vitam (Netflix – French). Very French. With all French films, first comes imagery and facial expressions, then twists and turns where it leaves you thinking about the social imprint of the message. In this case, To live forever comes at a price. This is a thinking man’s Sci-Fi.