THE SANDMAN (2022)
Season One (Premiere)
Aired On: Netflix
Release Date: 08/05/22
"Upon escaping after decades of imprisonment by a mortal wizard, Dream, the personification of dreams, sets about to reclaim his lost equipment."
Having only read the first entry into Neil Gaimans' "The Sandman" comic book series titled "Preludes & Nocturnes", which consists of issues 1-8 of the original comic series, I'm only familiar with it up to that point. Gaiman's acclaimed series of comic book/graphic novels that span 12 volumes or 75 comic books, have had a long history with several attempts by Hollywood creatives over the last 30 years to get to the screen, and clamoring fans now have a filmed adaption to consume. With beloved properties such as this comes excitement, with a dose of trepidation. After watching the premiere episode of Netflix’s The Sandman, long-time fans can rest easy and audiences new to this universe can partake in the excitement.
Author Neil Gaiman's works have for the most part been notoriously difficult to adapt from page to screen but in recent years with peak tv, we have gotten American Gods, Good Omens, and Lucifer, most of which have ranged from not great to pretty decent. Furthermore, these filmed adaptations usually tend to steer away or completely abandon the source material. Judging from the first episode of Netflix's The Sandman it's clear this latest Gaiman offering is one crafted from love and appreciation for his work. Episode 1 titled "Sleep of the Just" serves as what will be a lot of viewers' first foray into this wild world where our main protagonist, Dream aka Morpheus (Tom Sturridge), the personification of dreams shortly after being introduced, is captured and imprisoned by Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance). Burgess, whose selfish motivations have led him to gain knowledge on conducting a spell that will summon and capture Death. Roderick, still reeling from the death of his firstborn son Randall years prior, to the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War, aimed to demand Death return Randall to him healthy and alive. Without spoiling and blandly summarizing the entire episode, what will be immediately apparent to an average viewer is that this is a wild and unique universe Gaiman has created. Fortunately, he was deeply involved during the production of this series and it shows. A vast amount of the series' first episode is taken directly from the pages of the first comic issue. Several moments of striking imagery in "Sleep of the Just”, most of which have been shown in the trailers leading up to the release, are even more exciting to witness in the context of the episode. Even the simple image of Dream in the sphere cage is captivating to see in live-action form.
There's a lot to absorb in the 54-minute-long first episode. Not to an overwhelming and off-putting degree, but it isn't a lot of time to get well acclimated to the show's many characters. Tom Sturridge as Dream or Morpheus, is confined and silent for most of the onscreen runtime, although Sturridge does provide a good amount of narration throughout. He's forced to express much of the character's personality and emotions through facial reactions and body language, in which he succeeds. Sturridge's performance so far has me sold on him being a more than capable fit for the role. Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian is what you could call a living nightmare. Created by Dream, Corinthian escaped the dreaming world into the real world. Holbrook makes good use of the limited time he's on screen and I love seeing him take on an antagonistic and nasty role such as this one.
Suffice to say it's been a long wait to see what a live-action form of "The Sandman" would look and feel like. The concern has always been whether a live-action adaptation can capture the same spirit and exhilarating nature of the comic book series. From what episode one of The Sandman presents, it's on a great course to be not just a great television series, but a great comic book adaptation that's done right. Even to the unacquainted, there's a very intriguing, fantastical, and vast story to dive into.