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‘Altered Carbon’: You seriously need to DIE right now




Spoilers can be found in all Stacks!

The show is based on the first book of the same name in a series, by Richard K. Morgan. Set far in the future, the show informs us that technology exists that allows us to back up our very essence, in theory our soul, into a thing the show simply calls a Stack.

And so long as our Stack still exists, even if the body we wear is killed, we live on. We have to be loaded into a new body, usually called a Sleeve, or adversely can be loaded into VR – Virtual Reality of course – and spun back up to be conversed with once again, and many nasty lines can be crossed in VR, to many characters’ chagrin.

What you have to accept, right off the bat accept as fact, is that this nonsense is considered normal for them. These concepts, of immortality, of the soul, of what it means to be human, while they are all presented and certainly discussed to some degree, are available to us the audience only from afar, whereas these characters, they are actually living in it. Prepare yourself for spinup in VR, I’m about to spoil a great deal of the plot, but then there’s no real way to talk about the delight that is ‘Altered Carbon’ otherwise.

The Protectorate is basically exactly what it sounds like, a collective of staggeringly rich like-minded high society types who rule several planets together, policed by guardians called C-TAC Agents, and occupied by nobles who are generally referred to as Meths. (The word apparently refers to Methuselah, oldest living descendant of Noah and thought to be the longest-lived person ever.) The lesser dregs of Bay City, the criminals and the poor, just trying to get by, have to contend with the likes of a murdered 8-year-old daughter being spun up into an inappropriate Sleeve and humiliations even more severe, causing a clear rift in general society.

On the other side, we have the church freaks and true believers, fanatics who refuse to get a cortical Stack implanted on religious grounds, so when they die out here in the Real, it’s forever. Like for really-reals. The subject is hotly debated and in theory religious freedom still exists out here in the future, but as with today, often causes a lot of headaches for law enforcement trying to crack cases and you know, solve murders. Thus we are introduced to Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda), that bulldog of a cop who can take a beating and still curse you out in loud Spanish, with her large extended family who celebrate Dia De Los Muertos, which is now a more or less official holiday as far as everyone’s concerned, rather like you’d expect, only now the ghosts show up in the Sleeve of a large tattooed and creatively pierced white man. The debate of spirit versus Sleeve is clearly demonstrated in Ortega’s large family, how she loves them all in unique quiet and happy ways. Until the Kovacs case really begins to heat up, that is.

And we come full circle, welcome back to the world Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), some specially and mystically trained operative known as an Envoy, from more than two hundred and fifty freaking years ago, the last known Envoy in the whole world. One of the richest and oldest Meths of Bay City, well not technically the city, no, he built a white tower into the sky, calls it the Eyrie and everything, meet Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy). It was he who had the temerity, the balls and oh gods yes the money, to raise Takeshi Kovacs himself in this ridiculous new body, to solve a murder. Specifically, Laurens Bancrofts own murder, as he points to a bloody swatch on the stone wall to demonstrate where his mind and Stack where erased in a former body. Kovacs new Sleeve comes with its own set of inherent problems, hailing from prison and formerly somehow of the police force too, as Elias Ryker does.

Finding out what happened to Bancroft was never going to be easy, but then Bancroft didn’t shunt out and re-Sleeve Kovacs for anything other than the truth to the one question – who killed Laurens Bancroft? The search for the answer mows through a very bad idea of a fling with Miriam Bancroft (Kristi Lehman), a pants-wetting confrontation with one of Bancroft’s sons Isaac (Antonio Marziale), and what sure looked like yet another Laurens Bancroft murder, but literally by his own hand this time.

But all of this is little compared to memories Takeshi Konvacs visits whenever he can, dreams of unpleasant life with his tiny sister and abusive father, having to make hard choices and living with the consequences, and his training as an Envoy, specially at the hands of Quell (Renee Elise Goldsberry), their leader. Her charisma is a thing to behold, her training is absolute, and her attraction to Takeshi in particular is undeniable. Even Tak’s sister, older now but still together fighting as one like the dragon with no end, can’t help but notice the formidable team Tak and Quell make. Jealousy is an ugly and, sad to say, long-lasting emotion.


So when Takeshi’s sister Reileen (Dichen Lachman) shows up in a proper Sleeve to attempt to save him from himself, Kovacs is beyond taken aback and understandably reluctant to accept damn near any kind of help. Based on his Envoy training, Takeshi has already managed to surround himself with loyal minions, and he began in the most unlikely place possible, a near-defunct AI hotel that no-one uses anymore, the House of the Raven. Poe (Chris Conner), the AI construct that runs the hotel, is far from the emo goth poetry writer his model is based on, but rather, a fiercely loyal and surprisingly gentle construction that can both lower machine guns from the ceiling to take on all comers, but also tend softly to the damaged psyche of the daughter of Takeshi’s next minion, Vernon (Ato Essandoh). Vern’s daughter Lizzie (Hayley Law) was severely damaged and her father could only spin her Stack back up in VR, where she’s apparently stuck reliving her attack, over and over. No-one would ever think the king of beating hearts under the floorboards would bring a damaged girl back from the brink and teach her to kick so much ass, but there you have it. Even Lizzie’s mom, who shows up in an unusual Sleeve, while she may not entirely approve of the methods Poe uses, cannot argue with the results. Armed with these unique helpers, Takeshi Kovacs will use any and all methods at his disposal to discover the real truth behind the murder of Laurens Bancroft, no matter who it hurts, no matter what else his investigation might uncover, and then finally, finally, he might get to go back on ice and just rest.

Like the future existence of Bladerunner crossed with the culturisms and snark of The Fifth Element, Altered Carbon is a world rife with intrigue, mystery, twisted love and rueful pain, and never-ending possibilities. Altered Carbon season two, based on the second book Broken Angels by Richard K. Morgan, is already slated for production, though rumor has it Kinnaman won’t be returning for the lead role of Takeshi Kovacs. Given the Sleeving abilities of the world, the show can certainly do that and even get away with it, but without Kinnaman’s brooding twinkles it may be slightly less enjoyable.

Download a Sleeve and jack in to Altered Carbon on Netflix now!

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Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy



Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.

The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.

I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.

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Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?



Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.

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The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!  



Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.

So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.

The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.

Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.

First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.

Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.

Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.

Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.

To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!

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