With “The Sandman” Netflix is once again delivering a new fantasy series that hits a different notch than “The Witcher” & Co., but is a hit for fans of Neil Gaiman (“Lucifer”, “American Gods”) . Here’s our review of Season 1:
Netflix and Fantasy: This fits together wonderfully, not only thanks to “The Witcher”, but also thanks to formats such as “Shadow And Bone”, “Arcane” and numerous others. The Sandman is the next fantastic adventure on Netflix, based on Neil Gaiman’s DC comic book of the same name. The Netflix adaptation has nothing to do with Batman and Co., but feels more like a typical Neil Gaiman, whose divine and godlike characters have also populated “Lucifer”, “Good Omens” and “American Gods”.
But not only in terms of content, but also in terms of quality, “The Sandman” can tie in with the series mentioned. “The Sandman” not only inspires with strong images and a great score by composer David Buckley (“Jason Bourne”, “The Town”), but above all with a great cast of characters and a successful adaptation, which closely follows the Gaiman comic book template. Incidentally, the latter is no wonder, after all Gaiman developed and supervised the series together with David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight” trilogy) and Allan Heinberg (“Wonder Woman”).
The plot of “The Sandman”
In 1916, Dream (Tom Sturridge), ruler of the dream world, is about to recapture an escaped nightmare named the Corinthians (Boyd Holbrook) when he is ritually summoned and imprisoned by self-proclaimed wizard Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance).
For more than 100 years, Dream remains the prisoner of Burgess and his son before he finally manages to escape. Now he not only has to ensure order in the dream realm, which was affected during his long absence. Also missing are Dream’s helmet, the bag of his dream sand, and a powerful ruby that Burgess took from his prisoner. And the Corinthian is still at large…
In “The Sandman”, Gaiman, Goyer and Heinberg do without DC icons such as Batman and Superman or Arkham Asylum, which at least play a marginal role in the comic book, and shift the main story from the 80s to the present, but otherwise The plot follows surprisingly closely the first two volumes of Gaiman’s award-winning and critically acclaimed comic book.
» “The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes” on Amazon*
It even goes so far that “The Sandman” follows a structure that is very unusual for a series: Episodes 1-5 and 7-10 each tell a self-contained storyline with its own ensemble of characters, almost like Seasons 1 and 1.5, while Episode 6 stands (almost) completely on its own and includes two very nice miniatures that are not relevant to the plot are still important, but contribute to character development and subject matter.
» “The Sandman Volume 2: The Doll’s House” on Amazon*
This daring experiment is fully reflected in “The Sandman”. – at least if you can accept that something like a human identification and main character (namely newcomer Vanesu Samunyai as Rose Walker) only enters the stage in episode 7 (!), while the characters from the first episodes, if at all, only in Season 2 will be relevant again.
Because “The Sandman”, like the comic book, is actually mainly about the title character Dream alias Morpheus, played by Tom Sturridge (“On The Road”, “Waiting For Forever”) with just the right mix of mystery, magic and humanity. However, the secondary characters turn out to be scene thievesabove all Boyd Holbrook (“Logan”) as the charming serial killer nightmare, Patton Oswalt (“Young Adult”) as the cheeky raven Matthew and Kirby Howell-Baptiste (“Barry”) as Dream’s sensitive sister Death.
Simple story, great execution
As with the comic book, the two main storylines in Season 1 are basically very simple: First, Dream must retrieve his lost regalia, and then capture the Corinthians while Rose searches for her brother Jed at the same time. “The Sandman” comes to life through the thematic substructurewhen Dream, who was initially very distant and focused on his task, gradually learns more about the nature of humanity – and through the staging.
Again and again, the director sextet responsible for the individual episodes (Mike Barker, Jamie Childs, Mairzee Almas, Andrés Baiz, Coralie Fargeat and Louise Hooper), viz Ways to translate the exuberant creativity of Gaiman’s comic template into the form of a series, with the smooth transitions between the different times, realms and worlds being a real highlight.
These include a trip to hell where Dream has to face off against Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie) himself in a special duel, or a sequence in which Morpheus travels through different dreams, such as falling from a gallows into an endless tunnel that eventually opens up turned into a close-up of Dream’s eye. And right in the first episode, “The Sandman” jumps 80 years into the future with a single tracking shot, similar to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001”.
All ten episodes of The Sandman Season 1 are available to stream on Netflix starting August 5, 2022.
New on Netflix August 2022: List of all movies and series
*The links to the Amazon offer are so-called affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will receive a commission.