Sand in the eyes: "Sandman" is everything that is bad about Netflix's huge productions
Busy, boring and with a hero who manages to be depressing and pitiful at the same time.
In its attempt to stay true to the writing material of the successful comic book series, the expensive giant creation is mostly occupied with pleasing fans.
The problem is that it is not clear what should excite even them in this hollow rendering
Friday, August 5, 2022, 10:01 a.m. Updated: 10:09 a.m.
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Trailer for the series "Sandman" (Netflix)
At the current point in time, against the backdrop of the disillusionment of Netflix and its investors from the unrealistic vision it painted for about a decade, "Sandman" looks like one of the last remnants of an era that is unlikely to return: the streaming giant's ability to pay almost any amount for the rights to any attractive intellectual property.
And if these are indeed the last days of "puck-you money," "Sandman" is kind of a symbol of what Netflix did with that money.
Yes, along the way there were also successes like "The Sorcerer", but most of the attempts ended with expensive, mediocre and forgotten works.
Series whose shell may be shiny, but the interior is hollow and neglected, as if all that matters is that we pressed play and were counted as viewers.
"Sandman" is a work that has been flirting with different adaptations for at least three decades.
The dark comic book series by Neil Gaiman is considered a modern classic, but its transition from the page to the screen was fraught with difficulties.
Some are technical, but others touch on narrative complexity.
Not only does "Sandman" take place partly in a parallel dimension and correspond with one of Gaiman's great loves (mythology and stories of gods), it also includes a large number of characters from the DC canon - including Batman, Green Lantern and the Scarecrow, as well as gods, demons and even Cain and Abel.
In the graphic format these combinations are flexible and acceptable, certainly when they are divided into different cases of companies.
The problem starts when you have to make all of this order and uniformity for the benefit of a television story, and it haunts "Sandman" throughout.
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There is almost no scene in which he is not the weakest part.
Tom Sturridge in the lead role, "Sandman" (Photo: Netflix)
The plot of the first season - the whole of which was sent in advance for the review - is actually a rough compilation of two volumes (or cases): "Academies and nightly pleasures" and "The Doll's House".
The first describes a ritual of a cult that tries to imprison death, but binds in its place (the character of death in "Sandman" is a woman) Morpheus, the king of dreams (Tom Sturridge, "On the Road", "Bittersweet").
After a hundred years in human captivity, Morpheus manages to escape only to discover that the dream kingdom has crumbled and led to devastating results in the "waking world".
Weakened by his captors, he sets out to find three objects that are symbols of his power, and were taken from him when he was captured.
The second part describes Morpheus' attempt to capture creatures that escaped from the dream world to the waking world during the years of his absence, and the confrontation with a "dream stirrer" - a human being who weakens the boundaries between the dream world and the waking world, and threatens the stability of both.
The attempt by Gaiman (who created the series with screenwriters David S. Goyer and Alan Heinberg) to remain almost completely faithful to the original work makes "Sandman" the worst kind of bizarre: the boring kind.
It starts already with Morpheus, who looks like an emo's kid on Prozac: perpetually depressed, speaks in dramatic pauses that become more and more ridiculous as the series progresses, and in many cases overdoes the eyeliner.
There is nothing about this character, who carries the series on her shoulders, that generates any interest or identification.
Relative to an omnipotent being, Morpheus displays very little power, much less emotional intelligence, and is always trailed by the charisma and power of other characters he meets.
There is hardly a scene in which he is not the weakest part, including the ones where he is on screen alone.
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Jenna Coleman, "Sandman" (Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix)
When the series moves to the second part, of the pursuit of the various dream creatures, this feeling only gets stronger.
In fact, this part is mostly conducted without any influence of the main character.
This choice is even more strange against the background of the fact that "Sandman" does not present a villain or a major conflict, but rather a chain of alternating stories: the head of the cult that imprisons Morpheus, a nightmare that escaped from the dream realm, Lucifer, his sister Desire, a mentally disturbed man who stole one of the dream accessories, Association of serial killers and more.
This bizarre salad makes "Sandman" emotionally sterile.
She fails to choose which of her stories is important, does not give any of them a weight that would allow it to rise above the plot device it is supposed to serve, and therefore all are not equally interesting, as are the dreams, goals and destinies of the various characters.
Sandman's solution to this mess is size.
It presents worlds distinguished by color and character, passing between verdant fields and crumbling and dark kingdoms, fantasy and hell.
But even here it cannot be said that "Sandman" transcends or distinguishes itself from other high-budget works.
Its visuals are the product of a lot of money, but very little originality and uniqueness.
It is difficult to recall one scene that should remain in the collective memory, and relative to a series that is so invested in form at the expense of content - this is a real problem.
It stems from the misconception that bizarreness can be a plot device that keeps a series going over time.
There is a limit to how long you can stare at characters who speak or act strangely, before they simply stop being interesting.
It's not a mystery, it's just bad writing that expects viewers to do their homework and research the comics for themselves.
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It is difficult to understand what is supposed to excite and excite her.
"Sandman" (Photo: Netflix)
Even if we go for a moment with the insight that "Sandman" is only interested in the devout fans of the comics and does not want to waste its time on newcomers - it is difficult to understand what is supposed to excite and excite her.
It does not enrich the familiar plot, does not add new layers to it as successful adaptations do, it is certainly not surprising in the direction it is going.
Therefore, even if you have read all the booklets, the maximum you will get is a visual expression that is not necessarily better than the original illustrations, nor does it add layers or depth to the characters that they did not have before.
"Sandman" wants to shout that it is a televised event and does everything necessary for that: lots of creatures, characters, sub-stories, happenings and worlds, all of which are designed to hide the lack of quality writing and thinking about how to transfer a complicated work from the page to the screen.
It's too complex to be escapism, it's too superficial to be a complex fantasy work, it's mostly in love with its mindpack and the absolute freedom that Netflix allows its creators, just to add another random, hollow and superficial title to its library.
This is also the feeling that "Sandman" leaves behind: a combination of wasted time, boredom and a slight sense of fraud.