‘Sandman’ Review: Netflix’s Best Original Series Since ‘Stranger Things’

“What power do dreams have in Hell?”

This provocative question posed by theology’s most infamous Fallen Angel to the King of Dreams is a true turning point in The Sandman, the beloved comic book series from dark fantasy author Neil Gaiman. The philosophical weight of Morpheus’ response to Lucifer: “What power would hell have if the imprisoned could not dream of heaven?” – is felt in the rest of the series.

Three decades later, readers will finally be able to see not only the power dreams have in hell, but also the power they have when they remain in the corners of our world long after we wake up and rub the sand out of our eyes. .

The Sandman, starring Tom Sturridge as the titular pale-faced brooding dreammaker, debuted 10 episodes on Netflix today, meticulously adapting the first two volumes of Gaiman’s beloved and acclaimed graphic novel from page to screen.

Comic book fans will not be disappointed. Dare we say it? Your dreams may have finally come true.

This may be one of the most faithful adaptations ever attempted by a streaming platform. Instead of taking “creative liberties” with his 26-Eisner Award-winning source material, Neil Gaiman’s vision and narrative have been masterfully adapted. The devotion and care is palpable in the finished product.

from netflix The Sandman retells Volumes 1 and 2 of the comics — “Preludes and Nocturnes” and “The Dollhouse”, with only minor adjustments. It begins in the early 20th century, when Morpheus, Dream of the Endless (played by Sturridge), is captured by dark magic occultists and spends over a century trapped in The Waking World as his kingdom crumbles, allowing creatures of The Dreaming went crazy. . Humans then get affected by all sorts of weird sleeping sicknesses.

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When Morpheus is finally freed, he must go on an epic quest across multiple dimensions to regain his power. Everyone involved in the show clearly has a huge passion for the style of fantastical dreams they make. The Sandman One of the best graphic novels of all time.

Iconic images of the titular Sandman, Morpheus.dccomics

Part-scavenger hunt and part-noir, The Sandman explore dreamscapes both macabre and surreal, culminating in sweeping drama that spans all genres. And the variety of distinctive characters makes the show’s 10 episodes memorable and fun for most adult viewers, even those who’ve never heard of comics.

For fans of genre TV, it’s truly a must-see, and if it gets enough audience attention to get a sophomore season, it could become the next big Netflix series on par with Strange things.

what dreams can come

While the core traits and story arcs that make the characters of The Sandman comic books so memorable are kept intact here, the casting for the Netflix show deviates greatly from the source material, infusing the lineup with some much-needed diversity.

The cast is largely colorblind and gender-blind: Death is Black, Lucifer is a woman, John Constantine is gender-bending as Johanna Constantine, and more.

doctor who Alumna Jenna Coleman (right) plays Johanna Constantine, a gendered version of the exorcist and demonologist.Netflix

Surely people will criticize this without understanding that, fundamental for The Sandman comic books it is the belief that most of the abstract entities and omnipotent deities you see are subjective manifestations. In the cosmic sense, they are either completely open to the viewer’s interpretation (and different from viewer to viewer), or the outward appearance is a deliberate illusion chosen by these beings. In other words, they can choose how they appear in The Waking World, but their appearance can also be different depending on the observer.

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As such, although Death is depicted in the graphic novel as a pale pop-punk princess, as long as her purpose and function is fulfilled on Earth, it doesn’t matter what Death looks like on the show. The diversification of the original cohort of comics characters was not only a prudent choice suitable for modern times and modern viewers, but also leans on the source material’s exploration of abstract concepts that are essentially formless.

The protagonist himself, Morpheus (also known as Dream of The Endless, Oneiros, and The Sandman throughout the show), looks like he jumped right off the page. Tom Sturridge is a perfect casting in every way. It was clearly a measured choice to keep the main character as recognizable as possible while he experimented with the rest of the ensemble. Sturridge not only looks good, but he perfectly captures Morpheus’ cold arrogance and pride, as well as the more brooding goth boy side of him. Bonus points for fans of The Sandman audiobook and James McAvoy’s version of Morpheus’ voice: Sturridge opted for a similar rumbling tenor.

Tom Sturridge definitely looks good.Netflix

The scene stealers besides Sturridge himself are Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar, Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Asim Chaudhry as Abel, David Thewlis as Dr. John Dee, Stephen Fry as Gilbert/Fiddler’s Green, Mason Alexander Park as Desire, Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess, Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven, and Eddie Karanja as Jed Walker. Together, they make up a captivating mix of British and American veterans, most of whom have previous experience in genre franchises, along with a few rising stars.

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Christie brings to Lucifer a bravado and audacity similar to hers. game of Thrones the character of Brienne of Tarth (but with much more panache than this last role allowed). Howell-Baptiste is the warmest and most welcome Grim Reaper to ever grace television. Chaudhry, Fry, and Oswalt provide much-needed lightness and affability to balance Morpheus’ dull nature and some of the game’s more somber tones.

A loving vision of dreams come true

The Sandman is, in a word, magical.Netflix

Another facet that does The Sandman largely unmissable is that Netflix knew how to spend its supposed $15 million per episode budget wisely. The design and visual effects, including CGI, artistic makeup, prosthetics, and sets, are absolutely riveting.

It truly does seem as if Morpheus sprinkled his sand onto the pages of the comics and brought them to life – a dream spilling over into The Waking World (and onto our screens).

Details like the haunting tooth-eyes of The Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), the damned dead that make up the architectural basis and topography of Hell, the interior of a British pub through eight centuries, and Martin Tenbones’ fuzzy dream companion, were some of several standout effects that are sure to enthrall viewers, transporting them to the many realms in The Sandman. The images are exciting and rich, well worth their supposed price.

In short, Netflix’s interpretation of The Sandman is excellent because it masters a juggling act that most television and film adaptations struggle with: honoring characterization, thematic complexity, and weaving narratives together, while also ensuring that it is accessible and understandable to current and new fans alike. Same.

The Sandman Season 1 is already on Netflix.

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