Netflix makes Neil Gaiman’s dream come true

The publication The Sandman Review: Netflix Makes Neil Gaiman’s Dream Come True appeared first on Consequence.

The tone: What if amorphous concepts like Desire, Despair, and Death had anthropomorphic representations and kingdoms over which they ruled? What if, among them, one of the most powerful was Dream (Tom Sturridge), who oversaw the land where all living creatures arrive when their eyes close and their minds take flight?

That is perhaps the simplest place to start when describing the premise for The SandmanNetflix’s highly anticipated adaptation of the graphic novel series written by Neil Gaiman, featuring artists including Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel, Bryan Talbot and Michael Zulli.

Perhaps one of the most iconic examples of “sequential art” ever created, the ten-volume graphic novel series has, despite many Hollywood attempts over the decades, just arrived as a film adaptation, with the first season executive of 10 episodes. produced by Gaiman alongside David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg. And with Gaiman’s involvement, the result certainly feels like the best possible version of a TV show adapted from a defiantly difficult source to adapt.

Well who am I to keep you down: The Sandmanfor all the changes that have been made since the page (mainly in the form of gender-swapped characters and race-blind casting), it proves to be relatively faithful to the graphic novels, beginning when Gaiman began his original narrative: With Dream in a cage.

After a brief prologue in which Dream himself provides a voiceover explaining the facts of his existence, the first major story arc begins, which is Dream’s imprisonment by a WWI-era warlock. named Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance), who strips Dream of his powers and keeps him from his duties for decades.

Once Dream escapes from his prison, his first task is to retrieve the magical elements from which he draws his power, followed by a much larger task: to restore order to his ruined kingdom known as Dreaming. Essentially, he imagines if the first Superman movie had started with a naked Superman locked in a glass fishbowl for a hundred years, and then went on a quest to retrieve his cape and boots from him and rebuild the Fortress of Solitude. So you could understand why The Sandman has defied conventional adaptation attempts thus far.

A wish that your heart asks for: The Sandman features a pretty exciting cast, though it’s probably worth noting that the power of the ensemble is enabled in part by the limited screen time many of these characters have – some of the biggest names are limited to just a few scenes or performances of voice. But that still doesn’t diminish the fact that there are some tremendous names here, including Gwendoline Christie, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis, John Cameron Mitchell, Patton Oswalt, Mark Hamill, Jenna Coleman, and Stephen Fry, all of whom shone in their time. on the screen.

Additionally, the casting of Mason Alexander Park as Dream’s deceitful brother, Desire, is not just one of the show’s many great accomplishments, but an important reminder that Gaiman was writing gender-nonconforming characters long before his terms. as non-binary they became common. use. And also, let’s say this plain and simple: Fuck racism haters, Kirby Howell-Baptiste is extraordinary as Death, bringing a centered irony to the screen that truly resonates with Gaiman’s longstanding portrayal of her as a friend to all, there to hold your hand when the inevitable strikes.

Sandman Netflix Review

Sandman Netflix Review

The Sandman (Netflix)

Of all the actors involved, Sturridge bears the most difficult burden and struggles with it accordingly: there’s no denying that physically he’s the spitting image of the character, but like so many classic stoics, his limited dialogue and calm demeanor mean he’s not easy. immediately. for the viewer to get inside her head (even with the occasional voiceover crutch).

But in Dream’s lighter moments, Sturridge manages to pull off a compelling spark, and this first season is only meant to be the start of his journey. Dream may have powers beyond that of a god, but he’s as fallible as any Greek or Roman deity, and it’s in those uncertain moments for the character that Sturridge’s performance works best.

It’s never what it seems One of the reasons this story definitely works so much better as a TV show than it would have as a movie is because The Sandman was originally written as individual issues of a comic, its narrative was by nature episodic. So while Season 1 compresses the first two compilations of the graphic novel (Preludes and Nocturnes Y the doll house) at 10 episodes, the adaptation actually works quite well, with shorter stories covered in maybe 10-15 minutes of screen time, while other, more substantial narratives run in an episode or two.

What works best in this adaptation is the backbone provided by the expanding role of Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), an escaped nightmare who proves to be a captivating villain for the season. The writers did well to use it to weave together some of the shorter included stories, as Holbrook’s innate charisma is exactly the haunting touch needed to make his impeccable sunglasses-wearing looks creep under your skin.

As they tease and push the boundaries of your time, it’s hard to be terribly surprised by some of the most terrifying stories, like the episode “24/7” (which brings to life the disturbing story of “24 hours”) or everything related to the “cereal convention”. But that’s simply because our social standards for disturbing have increased over the years (just consider what Bryan Fuller Hannibal he got away with it damn nbc for three seasons).

There are a few moments of awkward dialogue, largely the result of an occasional indulgence in jokes and puns about sleep and/or dreams (not No drinks every time someone says the word “sleep”; pretty sure getting drunk won’t get you to Sleep).

But the only playing field on which The Sandman was always going to live or die was in how it attempted to depict the surreal nature of dreaming itself, and thankfully series directors Mike Barker, Jamie Childs, Mairzee Almas, Andres Baiz, Coralie Fargeat and Louise Hooper proved up to the task. challenge. There are times when the show leans a bit into CGI to create some of these dreamscapes, but overall they capture the familiar unreality of what happens when we walk away at night.

Sandman Netflix Review

Sandman Netflix Review

The Sandman (Netflix)

The verdict: The big question that comes up with adaptations is often “Why?” Why this story, why now? In the case of The Sandman, it doesn’t necessarily feel like the world is crying out for this to happen; instead, it feels more like Gaiman and his collaborators are simply taking advantage of this opportunity. In 2021, Goyer said collider that a broadcast series was “the only way that the magic of what… Gaiman had done could be fully realized”.

Having now seen the full season, it seems like a very accurate statement. Sometimes with adaptations, you have to accept that what you’re watching is objectively the strongest version possible, given all the complicated social, logistical, and economic forces that lurk behind the scenes of every movie or TV show ever made. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best we can hope for as an audience.

And in a very important sense, this Netflix adaptation is extremely successful at translating The Sandman to screen: This has forever It’s been a strange story, eschewing genre conventions and narrative tropes in ways that sometimes feel as fleeting and wild as dreaming can be. Some things have been changed from the page here, but one singular quality remains constant: the idea that the waking world can be as strange as what our unconscious minds cook up.

Where to look: The Sandman Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.

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The Sandman Review: Netflix Makes Neil Gaiman’s Dream Come True
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