a UFO among dreams on Netflix 🎃

Perfectly measured, the Sandman series pays homage to Neil Gaiman’s cult graphic novels, with a very high-flying adaptation.

Adapted from the graphic novels by Neil Gaiman, Sandman wants to establish itself as Netflix’s next success, at a time when the platform is struggling to retain its subscribers. Centered on the adventures of the king of dreams Morpheus, this epic new saga paves the way for a true extended universe, which could well be the strength of the Red N in the years to come. Faithful to the original work in its strengths as in its weaknesses, did the series make us dream? Critical.

Another comic book adaptation

On the small screen, comic adaptations abound. In recent years, SVOD platforms have invested in all possible registers to transcribe on the small screen the greatest successes of the ninth art. We obviously think of Marvel blockbusters, which now have a place of choice on Disney+, but also of Locke & Keyor The Boys on Amazon Prime Video. Eight years after its formalization, the adaptation of Sandman is no exception to the rule.

Sandman series netflix Dream
© Netflix

Published between 1989 and 1996, Sandman is among the seminal works of modern American comics. Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel appeared in France in a seven-volume complete (and a spin-off) at Urban Comics, and shines as much for its avant-garde style as for its size. After adapting the excellent American Gods and Good Omens on Amazon Prime Video, Neil Gaiman changes dairies, and this time signs with Netflix to image his most monumental work. This time again, the author takes part in the project, by signing the script for this first round of episodes, in collaboration with showrunner Allan Heinberg, and David S. Goyer, already at work on the series. Constantine in 2014.

In the Netflix series as in the comics, Sandman focuses on the adventures of dream lord morpheus. Imprisoned by mistake by Roderick Burgess, a black magician in search of immortality, the Eternal will spend nearly a century in captivity before managing to escape. But the return of the king will not go as planned: in more than 70 years, the kingdom of dreams has changed. Morpheus must put his world in order before going in pursuit of his attributes of power, stolen during his detention. On his way, the sandman will have to face powerful enemies who dream of destroying him, and regain his place within his own kingdom.

The craziest of dreams

Series Sandman does not do free interpretation: for this first burst of episodes, Netflix is ​​committed to faithfully transcribing the work of Neil Gaiman. Readers will not be mistaken, almost all of the episodes use the titles of the chapters of the first graphic novel. Only direct mentions to DC Comics appear to have been removed. The Martian, Batman, and even the character of John Constantine respond to absent subscribers. The agreement between Warner and Netflix obviously only concerns the universe created by Neil Gaiman, and this also applies to the characters.

Sandman series netflix Johanna Constantine
© Netflix

As was Good Omens in its kind, Sandman is a UFO in the serial landscape, too often formatted by the financial considerations of platforms. Very dark, both in its subject and its graphic treatment, the narration of the series offers a dreamlike and disjointed viewing experience, bordering on the abstract. Each episode flirts with the borders of the strange, to the point that we sometimes have the impression that this first season only accumulates independent arcs. Most of the chapters end up recrossing, the time of a dream or a nightmare, but several remain deprived of their conclusion, as is the case of that devoted to Robert Gadling. Whether it’s Roderick Burgess, Constantine or even Rose Walker, each plot is an opportunity to recall the omnipresence of the lord of dreams, but also his ability to cross human generations.

series sandman netflix
© Netflix

On the photography side too, the work of Allan Heinberg is to be welcomed. The universe depicted by Neil Gaiman easily tends to fall into gratuitous darkness, but effectively oscillates between the horror of the underworld and the verdant charm of the dream realm. A balancing act between dream and nightmare, in which genres intertwine without resembling each other. The soundtrack is also a success, starting with the cover by Yeezy of Mr Sandmanthe 1950s hit that we thought we knew by heart.

Despite a profusion of arcs and characters, not enough to lose track. The realization is effective enough to never lose us. Dream’s adventures keep us awake until the season’s conclusion. It will however be necessary to show resilience, and to accept, sometimes reluctantly, that certain questions posed in this first burst of episodes will remain unanswered.

Dream a little dream and his friends

If the story of Sandman is a success, it is from the side of its characters that the series draws all its strength. The protagonists created by Neil Gaiman shine with their depth, and it is clear that the many choices made by Allan Heinberg are just right. The gear is well oiled, and no grain of sand disturbs the machine of dreams.

Sandman series netflix Death
© Netflix

As in the comics, the series Sandman achieves the feat of making Morpheus a divine figure, almost detached from his own history. If Tom Sturridge (Good Morning England) remains compelling in his role as Eternal, he is quickly eclipsed by the humanity of his subjects, starting with Lucienne, the librarian of the dream world. Netflix has chosen to feminize the original character, and it must be admitted that Vivienne Acheampong is obvious in her role. Same observation for Jenna Coleman, who delivers a Johanna Constantine far from the shackles that we usually know about her.

With its very British cast, which one would think straight out of Harry Potter or of Doctor Who, Sandman delivers a magical interpretation, in a world that has all the cards in hand to become a pop culture visual reference.

Sandman series netflix Desire
© Netflix

This is also the strength of the series: the characters are imperfect, and do not fall into gratuitous caricature. Whether it’s the selfishness of Constantine or the naivety of Rose Walker (Kyo Ra), the whole cast offers a rare depth, including among the secondary figures. The antagonists are no exception to the rule, and also deliver just brilliant renditions, like Boyd Holbrook in the role of the Corinthian, or David Thewlis in that of John Dee, ready to make any sacrifice to free themselves from the grip of Morpheus. In juggling between genres and registersthe villains become the cornerstone of the series, and it’s a real success.

Only the characters of Desire (Mason Alexander Park) and Despair (Donna Preston) sometimes lack finesse. The two big villains of the series do not have time to show the full depth of their character in this first season, and that’s a shame. As soon as we see it, Mason Alexander Park bursts the screen in his role. Season 2 should fortunately offer him a place to match his talent. Even if it means totally eclipsing Morpheus.

Netflix wants its Sandman Universe

To want to portray all the characters of the comics universe, the series Sandman sometimes forgets that she only has ten episodes to achieve this. This is also the main flaw of this adaptation, as brilliant as it is. Despite an always correct construction, some characters only make a brief appearance to then fall into oblivion, when we would have liked to know them a little more. The palm of the genre goes to the immortal Robert Gadling, but it is also the case of Johanna Constantine, as well as the rest of the siblings of the Eternals. Desire, Death and Despair make only brief appearances, while Fate, Destruction and Desire are just mentioned.

sandman series netflix corinthian
© Netflix

Without being totally frustrating, this first season is above all an opportunity to present the characters of a lore that we imagine far too vast for a single season. No doubt, the extended universe dreamed up by Netflix is ​​there. The platform finally seems to learn from its mistakes by betting on ambitious productions, which see a little further than the now traditional pilot season never renewed.

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