Spoilers need some shut-eye.
Adaptations are a double-edge sword. I’m of the mind that any show must try to find its own style even to the detriment of accuracy. It is true that there’s always a certain aspect such as a character quirk or a plot twist that are milestones that the filmmaker cannot ignore. Hopefully remaining true to the heart of the story does not imply we have to transpose word from word every written depiction to visual recreation.
The Sandman (2022) was created by Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. Dream of the Endless (Tom Sturridge) also known as Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, is captured by a human wizard and kept imprisoned by more than a century. When he finally manages to escape, he must rebuild his kingdom and recover the tools of his trade which his captors took from him. Assisting him will be Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong) and the raven Matthew (voiced by Patton Oswalt). Seeking to sabotage his efforts will be escaped nightmare The Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook). There’s of course a lot more characters that will come and go, some familiar and some with new faces, but half the fun will be meeting those so I’d rather say no more.
It’s an adaptation done with the participation of Neil Gaiman. I’ve read the graphic novel more than a few years ago and I felt I’d rather not review it so I could experience it fresh. I think it works as its own thing and I’m sure some of the characters have been changed. But taking it only at face value without considering any other materials, it does feel solid and grounded. It’s not your superhero fare, which I find it refreshing. It does breathe life into a world that feels bigger and ripe with possibilities. Hopefully it works for fans as well as it does for me, but I think it will find an audience interested nonetheless.
There’s one particular aspect of the narrative that I found a little jarring. Sometimes the story transitions to a new character and a completely new narrative and cast are introduced. The first time it happens in a slightly more organic fashion when introduces John Dee (David Thewlis). There’s a second time when we’re completely immersed in the life of Rose Walker (Vanesu Samunyai). The dynamic changes completely leaving Morpheus as more of a background character introducing Rose’s story (think Mad Max in Fury Road). I didn’t feel the same level of engagement in the last episodes where the theme feels a lot more directed towards a younger audience and some of the performances a little lackluster. This clashes with the death and damnation promised by the nature of the antagonists.
Highly recommended with reservations. Yes, its fantastical visuals are CGI. But it’s the lore and the worldbuilding that draw you in and make this world one with depth. The performances are rather adequate and there’s a bit of dark humour sprinkled here and there as well as a few drops of horror added for flavour for the most part. The last transition I found a bit oriented towards a younger crowd and not as engaging. Worth at least a watch.
That will do for now.