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The beginning of Dream’s imprisonment.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

If you’ve been dreaming of a perfect on-screen version of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, you’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 masterpiece on the level of the comics either.

The titular Sandman is Dream (Tom Sturridge), also known as Lord Morpheus: the black-cloaked, raspy-voiced embodiment of all dreams and storytelling. Dream is one of the Infinite, 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 who dabble in powerful magic. During the century of Dream’s captivity, his kingdom – the world of dreams, also called the Dreaming – falls into chaos, along with the waking world.

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

When Dream manages to escape, he must recover the magical tools he lost – his bag, his helm and his ruby ​​- and put the world back in balance. His allies include Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong), the chief librarian of the Dreaming, and Matthew (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a crow. This may interest you : Netflix’s The Sandman Release Time and Episode Count. His enemies are many, but chief among them is the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), a sunglasses-sporting nightmare wreaking havoc on the waking world. There are a lot more characters to keep track of, as well as a lot of lore – and that proves to be one of The Sandman’s biggest challenges.

One of several recreations of iconic comic moments.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The Sandman comics were long considered unadaptable due to their grand scope and enormous cast. The Netflix version proves that the cartoons are, in fact, adaptable. More than that, this series intends to remind us how faithful an adaptation it is. It lifts dialogue from the comics word for word and recreates many panels, such as Dream’s debut in the waking world, in stunning detail.

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The Sandman does have fantastic moments — but is it enough?

Sometimes that allegiance ends up working to The Sandman’s advantage, but many times it doesn’t. Similar to the comics, the initial arc of the show is how Morpheus can recover his things after he is free, and also how he must go about setting the Dreaming back in order, as well as rectifying the chaos in the waking world in his absence. . allowed. But also like in the comics, after that arc is over, he’s left wondering what’s next, and what’s the point of it all. Read also : Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ have released trailers for their upcoming new series. An understandable conundrum, but stressful in the middle of a season. The first half of The Sandman and the last half end up feeling like two completely different shows, making for an uneven viewing experience.

The Sandman also struggles under the weight of its own world-building, doing its best to cram exposition into conversations at every opportunity. In early episodes, this exposure also comes in the form of Dream’s near-constant voiceover. Fortunately, this tactic is disappearing quickly. However, when the characters of The Sandman constantly remind us of who they are and what they do – sometimes even unnecessarily recapitulating the events of the previous episode – we lose valuable time getting to know them. They risk becoming flat signposts that tell us how to experience the story instead of fleshed-out characters inhabiting the world. And when these characters include personifications of Dreams and Death, wouldn’t you rather they were as fully formed as possible?

Dream and Death have a heart-to-heart.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

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Despite its flaws, The Sandman has potential.

The Sandman is a collection of truly great moments joined by awkward times spent maneuvering our main players into place. For every scene on the level of Dream’s tense confrontation with Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie) or a dragging performance by John Cameron Mitchell himself, we get slow exposition that hampers the show’s pace. On the same subject : Portland Picture Books has been named the best comic book store in the world. We don’t need to be reminded of the rules of the Dream for the umpteenth time – can we just go back to the serial killer convention?

The same goes for the images of The Sandman. So much of that show is beautiful and comically accurate, from the basement where Dream is kept to Desire’s iconic palace, which is a giant sculpture of Desire herself. Sequences where Morpheus moves through other people’s dreams are clear highlights, full of clever visual storytelling that captures the wonderfully hazy quality of 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 Sandman’s best qualities is its cast, who deliver strong, committed performances across the board. Sturridge anchors the show, capturing Dream’s ethereal qualities and his stubborn resistance to change. Howell-Baptiste shines as a kind, empathetic incarnation of death, Park is delightfully seductive and menacing as Desire, and Christie’s chillingly sinister take on Lucifer will make you wish we’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 both recklessly evil and having the time of his life. Making him a bigger presence earlier is one of The Sandman’s smartest adaptation choices.

I want to see more Lucifer, sue me.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

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