Reviews: Review of “Sandman”, series by Allan Heinberg based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman (Netflix)

Failed transposition of the famous work published from the end of the ’80s to the mid-’90s.

Sandman (The Sandman, United States/2022). Showrunner: Allan Heinberg. Direction: Jamie Childs, Andrés Baiz, Louise Hooper, Mairzee Almas, Mike Barker and Coralie Fargeat. Screenplay: David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg, based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. Cast: Tom Sturridge, Gwendoline Christie, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Amid Chaudry, Charles Dance, Boyd Holbrook, Vivienne Acheampong, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mason Alexander Park, Donna Preston, Jenna Coleman, Niamh Walsh, and Joely Richardson. Cinematography: Will Baldy and George Steel. Duration: eleven chapters of 45 minutes. Available on Netflix from Friday, August 5.

If Netflix’s new directive to end “vanity projects” to dedicate efforts to “less content, but bigger and better” is going to imply that from now on its series and movies will resemble Sandman, we are baked. Considered impossible to film since the publication of its first installments in 1989, the “almost” homonymous comic (the Latin American title erased the “The” prior to Sandman original) comes to streaming through a chaotic, confusing transposition and with a degree of solemnity reminiscent of the thousand and one attempts by Warner to provide complexity to the characters from the vignettes.

Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel is from the same era as v for Vendetta Y The Dark Knight, a time when DC opted for a battery of projects aimed at a mostly adult audience. Of course, this is not the case with this series that liquefies all complexity in order to satisfy the greatest possible number of audiences, as the algorithms dictate.

The Sandman of the title, also called Morpheus, is the Dream King, a god with the ability to materialize dreams, but also nightmares. In the first episode, a spell to bring the dead back to life ends him (Tom Sturridge, with an emo imprint reminiscent of Robert Pattinson’s pale, languid, insipid vampire in Twilight) trapped in a capsule. When the matter is resolved and he finds his place of origin, Daydream, downtrodden due to his absence, will set to work to try to restore order.

The problem is that for that he needs three elements that were taken from him on Earth: a bag of sand, a magic stone and a mask very similar to the gas masks they used in the First World War. Another pass of magic through, and Sandman will know where his things are, thus beginning a long journey to recover it.

The graphic novel was considered unfilmable, basically, because of the ramifications of its story and its multiple scenarios in different worlds, each one with its particularities. Here everything is solved by focusing mostly each chapter on a different subplot and (re)loading the special effects screen, to the point that there does not seem to be a scene filmed without a green cloth in the background.

Beyond the fact that its chapters are very different from each other, its serious and sepulchral dialogues, its protagonist with less charisma than the arena he is looking for and a convoluted development mean that the series ends up being a victim of its own ambitions of transcendence.

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