Home Graphic novel Review: Netflix’s exquisite The Sandman is the stuff dreams are made of

Review: Netflix’s exquisite The Sandman is the stuff dreams are made of

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Enlarge / Neil Gaiman’s classic “unfilmable” graphic novel series is getting the adaptation he’s always wanted.

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Like many nerds of a certain age, I loved Neil Gaiman’s for a long time. Sand seller graphic novel series; it was a huge influence on my younger self. So I was thrilled to hear about the planned adaptation from Netflix when it was announced in 2019, but I also felt some trepidation given past misguided efforts to bring the story to the screen. This apprehension was unjustified because The sand man is a triumph. It’s everything I was hoping to see in an adaptation, and it was well worth the wait.

(Warning: some spoilers for the original graphic novels and the Netflix series below.)

The titular “sandman” is Dream, but he’s also called Morpheus, among other names. He is one of the seven entities known as the Endless. (The other Endless are Destiny, Destruction, Despair, Desire, Delirium and Death.) dark humor. There really is nothing quite like it, and the series has proven to be hugely popular and enduring. A standalone story“A Midsummer Night’s dream” (The sand man No. 19) even won the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction, the only time a comic has been so honored.

The first season is largely based on the events depicted in Preludes and Nocturnes and A doll’s house, with some additional material taken from or referring to later documents. We open with Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) leaving the Dreaming to bring back a prodigal nightmare called the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook). Before he can do so, he is captured by an occult ritual performed by an occultist named Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance), who sought to capture Death to bring back his son, who died in World War I. Dream refuses to give in to her demands. , and while the aristocrat’s son, Alex (Laurie Kynaston), initially plans to free Morpheus, he ends up becoming his father’s accomplice.

Dream is imprisoned for 106 years, finally breaking free in 2021. But the Dreaming has been ruined in his absence, and his power totems – his helmet, sandbag, and ruby ​​- have been stolen. He must recover the totems and begin to restore the Dream, which includes tracking down the Corinthian and other escaped dreams and nightmares. He must also deal with the emergence of a Vortex – a human capable of traversing the dreams of others, weakening the barrier between the waking world and the Dream and capable of destroying them entirely.

There’s so much to love about this adaptation, but let’s start with the brilliant cast, with major names like Dance, David Thewlis (John Dee), Stephen Fry (Gilbert/Fiddler’s Green), Patton Oswalt (voice of Raven Matthew) , Mark Hamill (voice of Mervyn Pumpkinhead) and Derek Jacobi (Erasmus Fry). With his lean build, razor-sharp cheekbones and deep voice, Tom Sturridge makes a compelling Morpheus, even when Dream is too proud or mean-spirited or downright cruel at first – flaws that are central to the character’s personal growth all the way. along the route. Of the history. He’s not just a pretty emo-boy, and that’s largely thanks to Sturridge’s performance.