The power of Neil Gaiman’s imagination is unleashed on the small screen

Mason Alexander Park as Dream (LAURENCE CENDROWICZ/NETFLIX)

Mason Alexander Park as Dream (LAURENCE CENDROWICZ/NETFLIX)

Watching the first few episodes of The Sandman is like stepping into Aladdin’s cave and running your fingers through all the gems on display.

This sumptuous take on Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic is a visual feast and a treasure trove of stories waiting to be discovered.

Following other books dubbed ‘unfilmables’ – Dune, His Dark Materials, even Lord of the Rings – Netflix has managed to transport much of the comic book essence into a tightly scripted TV series.

The books follow the Sandman (also called Oneiromancer, Morpheus, or Dream) across various planes of existence – including Hell, the Dream Realm, and Earth – on a quest to recover the stolen power items after they were stolen from him during a period of time. 70 years. year of imprisonment.

The protagonist is played by Tom Sturridge, in a performance that requires him to frown at all times. God forbid that a smile should destroy his solemn countenance – though on the rare occasion it did, it made me very fond of him.

The series pays homage to the original comics, as it should. Much of the dialogue is taken literally from Gaiman’s source material, while several scenes from the early volumes are recreated almost exactly in the show, requiring liberal use of CGI.

However, while much of the enjoyment of this for fans comes from checking out comparisons between the source and adaptation, it’s not slavishly devoted to the comics, which were first published in 1989, and some modernizing twists come mostly in the form of the all-star cast. .

Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine with Tom Sturridge as Dream (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine with Tom Sturridge as Dream (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

A gender-swapped John Constantine is played haughtily as Johanna by Jenna Coleman; Gwendoline Christie is Lucifer; David Thewlis is pleasantly flustered as Batman villain John Dee repurposed (this is a DC comic, after all, though any allusions to DC have been toned down).

The parade of stars comes so thick and fast that sometimes you almost want to slow things down and enjoy them a little more, but each episode has so much to go by that there’s little time to stop and look.

That said, one of the good things the writers did was reduce the many subplots and tangents of the narrative, making them smarter and a little easier to follow, as well as including as many as possible.

Some of these lands. For example, an extended sequence depicting Dream’s evolving friendship with the human immortal Hob Gadling manages to be both touching and fascinating at the same time, shedding light on Dream’s personality and the evolution of humanity as they enjoy drinks in the same pub throughout the years. times.

Boyd Holbrook plays Corinthian (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

Boyd Holbrook plays Corinthian (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

Some parts, however, are less successful, for example an opening sequence with rival biblical brothers Abel and Cain, which asks viewers to invest very, very quickly. Why should I care that your cute gargoyle has to die for Dream to regain some of his power? In the comics, it works; in the TV series, the emotional background music failed to pull my heart.

This is likely to be a slow burner for many. Non-fantasy fans will have a hard time getting involved, while people who didn’t grow up with comics will likely need a few episodes to understand the mind-boggling amount of knowledge being solemnly displayed in front of them.

But for Gaiman purists, that doesn’t matter at all: any early problems are an occupational risk compromising the sheer force of the writer’s epic imagination on the small screen. Enjoy the good times: for Sandman fans, after a long wait, they’ve finally arrived.

The Sandman is now available on Netflix

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