Is it good enough? Netflix’s The Sandman is a fan’s dream.

Is it good enough? Netflix's The Sandman is a fan's dream.

Netflix has provided fertile ground for expensive-looking genre adaptations that play to dedicated fan bases, such as The Witcher, The Umbrella Academy, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Its general policy of releasing entire seasons at once means, at least theoretically, that there is less pressure placed on a show to explain what’s going on in Episode 1. The origin story of the Sandman burns at a great slow pace.

The first volume carefully gathers the details of its protagonist Dream’s universe during the treasure hunt. Gaiman, the Netflix adaptation produced by David S. Goyer and Alan Heinberg, embraces that pacing, making things unfold with the care of a monthly comic rather than a weekly TV spree.

Netflix's The Sandman Is a Fan's Dream. Is That Good Enough?

Neither sweet dream nor terrifying nightmare, Netflix’s The Sandman, the long-running adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s famed DC Comics series, is more than an afternoon nap, the kind that unintentionally kicks off an afternoon: The Beginning. Pleasant in, but then it just keeps on.

After a visually ambitious and ominously tense first half of the season, the pacing slows down and the narrative flow freezes until you feel like you’re lying on the couch with blurry eyes, a fuzzy mouth, and the rest of the Sandman.

Already half-forgotten. The Dream of the Endless (Tom Sturridge) may offer “freedom and adventure” to its mortal visitors, but The Sandman doesn’t completely eliminate the bargain. That renegade promise is primarily tied to the series’ treatment of Dream, which goes by several names in these ten episodes—Morpheus, Oneiromancer, and, of course, Titanic Sandman—but never quite seems to pan out. And without a strong sense of the dream and its motivations, all the stories and characters that revolve around it suffer as well.

Adaptation is difficult, and there’s no way every element of The Sandman can be exactly mapped to a TV show, even with Gaiman as a series co-creator, executive producer, and writer. Considering participation. Mediums are different, and so are their methods. (And now that there’s an established DC Extended Universe onscreen, of which this series is not part, mentions of Justice League, Gotham City, and Arkham Asylum in the comics have not survived the transfer.) The boundless creativity of the finished illustration can always be the visual effects. , should not be duplicated through the budget required for both in practical places, or TV.

Hour-long episodic run times can mean that a plot has to be split and reorganized differently as if it were in a book. But even with all those perks and considerations, the drawbacks of this version of Dream serve as a microcosm of the series’ missteps as a whole: shortcuts taken, inspiration flattened, and edges closed.

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Sandman is named after Dream for a reason. The comics follow the character over the decades as he is imprisoned by greedy humans who steal symbols of his power: a rudder that resembles the mask of a plague doctor and the alien engineer’s bio-suit helmet, a bag full of sand and a bright red There is a cross between Ruby.

It’s not a spoiler to reveal that Dream is finally freed—it’s all premiere-episode/first-issue stuff—and must retrieve its trio of items that have wreaked havoc on the world without the Sandman. ​—and return to his realm, dreaming, which was left in his absence by the dreams and nightmares he helped create.

The Sandman trade paperbacks that serve as the source material for the series – Prologue and Nocturne, a kind of coming-of-age story for Dream, and The Dolls’ House, an expansion of the universe in which he lives and rules – both Exhibits are—heavy matters that depend upon our fascination with the Sandman himself: his mysterious majesty and his reassuring ego, his gloomy burden and his dire sense of his own superiority, not to mention the aesthetics of those ink-eyed, Robert Smith. mop, and all-black clothing.

So much of the comics series is about Dream’s uneasy relationship with humanity and how the responsibilities of imaginary endless beings (including the death, desire, and despair of Dream’s siblings) affect her desire for revenge against those who have committed her. wronged them. But its transformation takes time.

Dream spends thousands of years as a filthy asshole with some pretty simple goth costumes and a lot of sympathetic views on people, and the speed with which Sandman throws that version of the character into the comics makes it more traditionally heroic. Outlines the core ideas of the difficult and questioning task that requires change.

At least when Sturridge is in that former mode, he secures The Sandman in his orbit. She’s silent for long parts of the premiere episode “Sleep of the Just,” but her lingering glare at being trapped in a glass sphere for decades communicates the depth of resentment that guides her performance in the following episode. His line delivery begins on a grim baseline and then takes on various inflections – snarkness, paradox, surprise – as he interacts with friends and foes, including a charming Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Dream.

Includes the wise older sister of; A hilariously terrifying Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian, a nightmare created by Dream who has become a serial-killer celebrity of sorts; and Gwendoline Christie’s pretty diabolical Lucifer, whom Dream fights in a scene that honors the grand scenes of Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg’s “A Hope in Hell” comic while updating it to feature Christie more.

When writing requires that Dream treats the people around him with a degree of emotional distance and with only a slight smudge to his whims, Sturridge best describes the comic-book character, while remaining this wondrous. It also puts its own spin on existence.

But the Sandman is wary of sticking with that adamant version of Dream. The character’s rapid development and changed personality are two particularly clumsy elements of the back half of the season, which is a real letdown after episodes one to six, bringing to mind Francis Lawrence’s film version of Constantine.

Gaiman, showrunner, co-creator, and executive producer Alan Heinberg and executive producer, co-producer, and co-writer David S. As with Goyer, Dream’s potential for personal growth accelerates, but the tweak doesn’t quite work over the course of the series otherwise neglecting opportunities to show us the character’s metamorphosis instead of telling us about it.

The result is an uneasy mix of beat-for-beat mimicry of issues like “The Sound of Her Wings” and “Men of Good Fortune” combined in the sixth installment of the season, and other drastic changes that take away from screen time. Have dreams and don’t stand on their own as TV inventions.

That latter approach allows for an important arc for Onesu Samunani’s Rose Walker and Razanne Jamal’s Lita Hall to hold together as friends who become trapped in the path of a cosmic rescue that empowers them in the realm of the Dream. does. It’s hard to imagine existing Sandman fans or new viewers being satisfied with this subplot, though, given how deeply it reflects customary Netflix bloat.

As Rose and Lita explore love and loss, their journey is somehow both padded and unimpressive, with repetitive scenes that emphasize superficial story beats. There’s a shiny CGI look to these later-season episodes that undermines the grand scale and massive scope that The Sandman previously established.

And while it’s commendable that this version of The Sandman featured women, non-binary, and Black and POC actors in a tableau that was predominantly white and male in print, the series increasingly saw the Dream as a push aside, while it was not developed enough to justify the timing. far.

What The Sandman fails to visualize in itself as a TV series is an issue: the comics show Dream rebuilding a world damaged by his ruby, but why not show that process here? This would have been useful character development and demonstrated what Dream’s equipment could actually do.

And the one that the TV series skips entirely is another, like the events of issue nine, “Tales in the Sand.” In that story, a shorter, more intense dream inevitably ruins a human woman’s life when she dares to reject her love, and she focuses on the spontaneity and selfishness of Dickishness Endless, comics.

An essential subject that the series points to but does not refer to. We see the end result of Dream’s action in The Sandman, but his reaction to the TV version of the moment is a softer one, one of many to make the character more palatable.

By the end of this season, Dream hurts others, considers a human to be a friend, and questions the purpose of the nightmare he once created, all of which could get trickier if The Sandman spends more time on his inappropriateness.

we’re ready to stay. On his quest to track down his hull, sand and rubies, Dream wonders “what am I without them”, but the picture provided by The Sandman is as paint-by-numbers as any other generated by the Netflix algorithm. feels as.

The series moves so quickly toward a kinder, cuddle version of its titular character that her transformation feels curiously weightless at first, and ends up feeling emotionally hollow—an ephemeral, evaporating into daylight. Or perhaps yet another instance of a beloved IP getting lost in the queue.


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