The Sandman tries to stay true to the comic. And that's his worst flaw

The Sandman tries to stay true to the comic. And that's his worst flaw

There is a midpoint in the sixth episode of The Sandman - the most successful first season installment of the new Netflix series based on Neil Gaiman's comic book - in which Dream (Tom Sturridge) talks to his sister Death ( masterfully played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste). It is immediately evident that, however powerful and fearsome, the protagonist is still a sulky teenager when he deals with a member of his family. The scene represents an appreciable moment for several reasons: first of all because of how it gives the character a hitherto unpublished empathic note, but also because, for a brief second, it is as if the original 1990 comic were translated perfectly on screen.

Unfortunately that moment - the feeling that what we see is a flawless recreation of the original on a different medium - is not supported by the rest of the series. Longtime fans of the saga, who hoped that the Netflix series could be all that the comic was and maybe even more (as fantastic as the original work was, on the other hand, but couldn't count on Gwendoline Christie), were probably disappointed with the final result, and for the most unfortunate of reasons: the series tries too hard to stay true to the source material.

Excessive fidelity Although the show's creators obviously made some changes - especially in the first five episodes, which have been rebuilt to eliminate elements related to the Justice League and other DC Comics heroes (Sandman was released by Vertigo, a DC brand) - the whole season gives the feeling that Neil Gaiman's scripts were there. only true gospel.

Similarly, the rhythm of the series is also affected by the excessive fidelity to the original work. Sure, in comics it took an entire issue for Dream to visit Hell to get his hands back on his helmet, but a 24-page comic and a 50-minute TV episode are two very different things, and that's a tension that is felt throughout the season. It is no coincidence that the sixth episode is much more lively and dynamic, managing to bring together two totally separate aspects to form something new.

If the adherence of the series to Gaiman's writing is a flaw , so is the decision not to take up the visual elements of the comic in an equally slavish way. There are a few moments when particular designs are purposely recreated on screen - Sam Kieth's illustrations in the first issue, in particular, are the subject of a lot of attention in the opening episode - but overall, the show feels more vague and faded than it does. what the creators of the comics managed to achieve thirty years ago. Hell, above all, is noticeably grayed out compared to the color palette created by Robbie Busch in 1989's Sandman 4, despite the means available in 2022 on the visual effects front.

The merits Netflix has published a surprise a bonus episode of The Sandman From today on the platform is available a double episode, partly animated and partly live-action, inspired by two other stories by Neil Gaiman All this does not mean that Netflix's production is a disaster or that it hasn't no merit. The cast is almost always superb and does an excellent job which often makes up for the shortcomings of the writing. David Thewlis in the role of John Dee, in particular, is absolutely convincing despite the lack of writing of the character; even the Corinthian of Boyd Holbrook lets itself be looked at, thanks to the liveliness that the actor gives to some dialogues that could otherwise be flat. It must be said that the villains of the work are a cut above practically all the others, but this is a defect that does not belong only to The Sandman (among the fans of the comic he had made a lot of discussion the choice to change the ethnicity or the sex of some characters; honestly, though, judging by the end result, the impression is that the showrunners have made the right decision in almost all cases).

And there are, as noted earlier, moments in where everything works, however brief: the interactions between Abel and Goldie or the situations in which Desiderio appears, for example, that steal the show every time.

The truth is that The Sandman is not a bad series, nor a bad adaptation of the celebrated source material. But it's a show with very tangible and obvious flaws. Thankfully, nothing that can't be easily patched before the show's second season production progresses too far. The potential of The Sandman is visible in almost every frame - the trick is to make that dream come true.

This article originally appeared on UK.

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