Netflix 'The Sandman' Review: Neil Gaiman and David S Goyer's DC dark fantasy series impressive in patches
David S Goyer is no stranger to fantasy superhero dramas. His work on 'Blade' all but made him a perfect candidate to develop 'The Sandman' for Netflix. Joining hands with Neil Gaiman and 'The Catch's Allan Heinberg, the trio set out to produce what was looked at as one of those wins for DC (they need one now with the whole 'Batgirl' kerfuffle). The good news: Tom Sturridge and a string of promising cast deliver. The bad news: 'The Sandman', a project touted to give 2022's fantasy drama's a run for their money is impressive only in patches.
Of the ten episodes, the first three are all about world-building, especially since the series aims at capturing the attention of the casually curious. For the well-versed who are familiar with Gaiman's work, the series just might fall short of expectations. Take nothing away from the effort though as the series is promising despite the flaws. It's perfect for a first-timer, but for the folk who indeed follows Morpheus, the King of Dreams (Sturridge), and his journey to reconstruct his tattered realm, the drama perhaps would be a tad bit of a squib.
The plot is pretty straightforward. In 1916, Morpheus, also one of the seven Endless, finds himself captured in an occult ritual by a charlatan occultist. Sir Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) wants his son who dies in the Gallipoli campaign to be revived by the angel of death. In that process of getting the death angel, he ends up capturing Morpheus, who is then held captive for 106 years. The series follows a timeline format where the King of Dreams finally escapes and vows to restore parity to his decaying kingdom of the Dreaming.
Corinthian, a nightmare who escaped the Dreaming (Boyd Holbrook) is one of the standout performers as a chilling antagonist. He nurses the blood and lust desire to takedown Morpheus and goes about his business which adds more depth and intrigue to the storyline. The biblical reference isn't missing in a story of gods of demons. Abel and Cain get their screentime, and while it does end with Abel's death in a manner that's disturbing, it's a respite to see Goyer and Gaiman stay true and accurate to the original work.
Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Mason Alexander Park as Desire, Donna Preston as Despair, and Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine appears over the course of the series playing their parts to perfection — one of the major hits for 'The Sandman'. Ideally, what started off as a movie and languished in development hell for a lifetime, much like Morpheus would have still worked better as a movie. Perhaps it was the attention to detail and vast expanse of material that led to a series that spans well over eight hours of viewing.
'The Sandman' has been a reason for most to rejoice and the Netflix fantasy drama makes sure the ardents are given a shot at marveling at their hard work. Patton Oswalt's appearance is something he will takeaway after being one of those intense and loyal Sandman fans. The OG comic series' cover artist, Dave McKean, unretired to design the end-credits sequences (which are a must-watch by the way despite the finger twitch to get to the next episode). It's a crowded Friday for Hollywood, what with the release of 'Prey' and 'Thirteen Lives' on Netflix's biggest competitors' platform. But 'The Sandman' commands some attention and rightfully deserves it, irrespective of the outcome.
'The Sandman' is streaming on Netflix.