Plans for a film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s celebrated DC/Vertigo graphic novel series The Sandman they’ve been around for almost as long as the three-decade title itself. After numerous starts and stops, Netflix has finally delivered with The Sandmana 10-part adventure (August 5) starring Tom Sturridge as the title character, who is also known as Dream (or Morpheus) and is one of the seven Endless, a family of divine metaphysical elements that have assumed human form over the years. Gaiman american gods Y good omens. Dream’s saga is extensive, spanning the ages and grappling with questions of destiny, hope, ambition and purpose. However, in his first season, he is overwhelmed by a messy narrative that borders on aimlessness and consequently turns it into a snooze.
Created by Gaiman, David S. Goyer, and Allan Heinberg, The Sandman opens as its source material does, with Sir Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance), an occultist who likes to be called Magus, using a magical ritual to conjure Death so he can resurrect the son who died in the fields. Battle of Gallipoli. By accident, however, this ceremonial invocation summons Dream at the very moment he was about to strike down The Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), a nightmare who left Dream’s realm of Dreaming for a life in the mortal world. , where he likes to murder people and cut. out of his eyes. Dream becomes a prisoner of Roderick and, later, his son Alex, spending the better part of 100 years trapped in an elegant glass case in the vast basement of an English mansion. Throughout this century, Dream is naked and says nothing, waiting for the moment when he can finally achieve release and, apparently, take revenge on his captors.
With a shock of black hair swirling atop his head, his skin as pale as moonlight, and his body as agile as a wraith, Sturridge cuts a faithfully striking figure as Dream, and with a bit of post-production sonic enhancement, his voice has a deep tone. , echoing quality that fits very well with the protagonist. Unfortunately, he is largely seen as an aloof bore. Finally escaping confinement, Dream discovers that his kingdom is in ruins due to his absence and abandonment, and embarks on a quest to retrieve the three tools that grant him his power. Those include a ruby, a bag of sand, and a giant gas mask with a long, column-shaped tube that he calls his Helm. However, despite allowing himself large amounts of exposure, The Sandman it doesn’t lucidly explain the precise nature of the meaning of these objects, which is in keeping with a narrative that seems to lack vital connective tissue, and is therefore aimed at fans who already know the details that fill in these gaps.
The first stop on Dream’s adventure is a town populated by Cain (Sanjeev Bhaskar) and Abel (Asim Chaudhry), who are trapped in an endless cycle of murder along with their pet gargoyle, whom Dream needs for his essence. As in the graphic novels, the biblical and the historical are mixed in the action itself, which soon involves Dream having run-ins with Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), a female variation of the exorcism-loving demon hunter, as well as with the ruler of hell Lucifer Morningstar. (Gwendoline Christie) and Roderick’s son, John Dee (David Thewlis), whose mother, stolen goods broker Ethel (Joely Richardson), once owned Dream’s tools. John is an inmate in a psychiatric ward courtesy of past crimes that are only briefly mentioned and through further conversation it is revealed that he still has Dream’s ruby. It is never adequately explained how he can wield such a weapon, or modify it to serve his own goals, nor why John is so obsessed with remaking the world by removing the human need to deceive.
In what amounts to a stand-alone episode, John uses a restaurant as his laboratory and its inhabitants as his guinea pigs for a grand experiment that involves telling the truth without embellishment. The ensuing reveals are sadly lackluster, made even more tedious by the fact that we barely know John or care about his deranged intentions. The Sandman works overtime creating the mood of moody gothic melancholy that turned Gaiman’s original into a 1990s sensation, filled with endless darkness punctuated by glowing orange-yellow lights, CGI-adorned medieval architecture, and lens cinematography fisheye lens that stretches and transforms everything in the frame. Aesthetically, it’s all romanticized digital doom and gloom, neither tangible enough to have a forceful impact nor ethereal enough to charm.
“Aesthetically, it’s all romanticized digital doom and gloom, neither tangible enough to have a forceful impact nor ethereal enough to charm.”
The Sandman becomes more episodic as its first season progresses, such that its guideline proves to be Dream’s attempt to gain a greater understanding of himself and humanity, while also reflecting on the pivotal role of dreams and stories in existence. Such notions may be loftier than those found in your typical genre effort, but Gaiman, Goyer, and Heinberg fail to bring them to magical life. For the most part, the series is inert thanks in no small part to Dream himself, an aloof quasi-deity whom Sturridge embodies as a passive, solemn observer. There’s no overall urgency or sense of the dramatic stakes in these grim proceedings, and worse, there’s a serious lack of engaging personality; As hard as Sturridge tries, Dream is a dull shadow of a character, more suited to posing than capturing and holding attention.
Based on its first six episodes, The Sandman it’s an alienating effort that jumps between selected stories from Gaiman’s various graphic novel collections in a futile search for direction. Devout acolytes may see their scattered vignettes as smaller pieces of a larger puzzle, yet everyone else may be as confused as they are enthralled. A dark fantasy lost in the dark, The Sandman it introduces elements in such a random fashion that it rarely feels like there’s anything to do with the success or failure of Dream, regardless of the hero’s repeated conversations about the importance of his mission. If, within the latest from Netflix, there is a seductive story about our dreams, the ones we experience in our sleep and the ones we tell ourselves through fiction, it’s buried too deep to cast a memorable spell.