Criticism of ‘The Sandman’: Netflix adaptation is not a dream, but not a total nightmare

If you’ve been dreaming of a perfect screen version of Neil Gaiman’s movie The SandmanYou’re going to have to dream a little longer and a little harder. Netflix’s take on the brilliant comic book series has its moments of excellence, but it also suffers from uneven pacing and mountains of exposition. The result is not a nap by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, it’s not a comics-level masterpiece either.

The titular Sandman is Dream (Tom Sturridge), aka Lord Morpheus: the embodiment of all dreams and narratives with a black cape and a raspy voice. Dream is one of the Endless, a family of powerful forces that includes Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Desire (Mason Alexander Park). Unfortunately, when we first meet him, he has been captured by mortals dabbling in powerful magic. During the century of Dream’s captivity, his realm, the dream world, also called Dreaming, falls into chaos, along with the waking world.

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When Dream manages to escape, he must recover the magical tools he has lost – his sandbag, his helmet and his ruby ​​- and restore balance to the world. His allies include Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong), the Dreaming’s head librarian, and Matthew (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a raven. His enemies are many, but chief among them is Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), a sunglasses-wearing nightmare who wreaks havoc on the waking world. There are a lot more characters to keep track of, as well as a lot of lore, and that just so happens to be one of the The Sandman’s greatest challenges.

The Sandman’The source material makes for an unwieldy TV show.

A shadowy man is drawn into a magical portal of blue light.

One of several recreations of iconic comic moments.
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The Sandman For a long time, comics have been considered unsuitable given their vast scope and immense cast. The Netflix version proves that comics are, in fact, customizable. More than that, this series is meant to remind us how faithful an adaptation is. It takes the dialogue from the comics word for word and recreates many panels, such as Dream’s first appearance in the waking world, in stunning detail.

Sometimes that fidelity ends up working for the Sandman advantage, but often not. Just like in the comics, the opening arc of the show is how Morpheus is able to get his things back once he is free, and also how he must put the Dream back in order, as well as rectify the chaos in the waking world. absence of him. allowed. But also like in the comics, once that arc is over, he wonders what’s next and what the meaning of it all is. An understandable conundrum, but jarring midway through the season. the first half of The Sandman and the latter half ends up feeling like two completely different shows, making for an uneven viewing experience.

“The Sandman” struggles under the weight of building his own world.

The Sandman he also struggles under the weight of his own world-building, doing his best to include exposition in conversations at every opportunity. In early episodes, this exposition also comes in the form of a near-constant voiceover from Dream. Fortunately, this tactic wears off quickly. However when The SandmanThe characters constantly remind us of who they are and what they do, sometimes even unnecessarily recapping the events of the previous episode, wasting valuable time getting to know them. They risk becoming flat signs telling us how to experience the story instead of fleshed out characters inhabiting the world. And when these characters include impersonations of Dreams and Death, wouldn’t you want them to be as complete as possible?

the Sandman It has fantastic moments, but is it enough?

A man and a woman dressed in black sit on a park bench.

Sleep and death have a heart-to-heart relationship.
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The Sandman it’s a collection of really great moments tied together by awkward stretches of time spent putting our key players in their place. For every scene on the level of Dream’s tense confrontation with Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie) or a drag performance by John Cameron Mitchell himself, we get a slow exposition that bogs down the pace of the show. We don’t need to be reminded of the Dreaming rules for the umpteenth time. Can we go back to the serial killer convention?

Same goes for The Sandmanvisuals of . Much of this show is beautiful and comedic, from the basement where Dream takes place to Desire’s iconic palace, which is a gigantic sculpture of Desire. The sequences in which Morpheus moves through the dreams of others are clearly outstanding, full of clever visual storytelling that captures the wonderfully nebulous quality of the dreams. Unfortunately, many of the scenes in the waking world lack that imagination or character, resulting in bland, lifeless shots that make you wish you were back in the Dreaming.

One of the best qualities of the show is its cast, which delivers strong and committed performances across the board.

One of The SandmanThe best qualities of is its cast, which delivers solid and committed performances across the board. Sturridge hosts the show, capturing Dream’s ethereal qualities and stubborn resistance to change. Howell-Baptiste shines as a kind and empathetic embodiment of death, Park is delightfully seductive and menacing as Desire, and Christie’s coolly sinister version of Lucifer will make you wish you’d seen more of her. Finally, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m obsessed with Holbrook’s performance as the Corinthian. This is a villain who is unabashedly evil and having the time of his life. Making it have a bigger presence sooner is one of The SandmanThe smartest fitting options.

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Despite its flaws, The Sandman has potential

A winged woman dressed in black and a man face each other in blinding golden light.

I want to see more Lucifer, sue me.
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The Sandman It’s far from perfect, but I respect it for straddling fantasy and horror and making some big changes in bringing such challenging source material to life. Not every show has been resolved in season 1, even The Sandman the comics didn’t find their footing early on.

I bring this up because Netflix is ​​notorious for canceling shows that don’t meet their mysterious standards after one season. This is not a destiny that I wish for in any program that is still being perfected, nor is it a destiny that I wish for in The Sandman. From its (sometimes detrimental) adherence to the comics to its excellent cast, The Sandman deserves to continue to spread its wings into the rest of Gaiman’s weird and wonderful story.

The Sandman It is now streaming on Netflix.

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