The Sandman is out of his cage, and we are all so lucky.
The Sandman Season One stars Tom Sturridge as Dream of The Endless, who has to reclaim his sacred items of power and take on a potentially universe-ending threat after he’s imprisoned on Earth for over a century. Also starring are David Thewlis as John Dee, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, Vanesu Samunyai as Rose Walker, Mason Alexander Park as Desire, and Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven. Joining them are also Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death. I know there’s a ton of wonderfully talented people I’ve left out, but if I were to add everyone who was great in the show this review might as well be an IMDB page.
Speaking of the cast, there isn’t a single instance of bad casting. Each cast member acted their parts well and were able to capture the essence of their comic book counterparts flawlessly.
Tom Sturridge easily had the hardest role to play out of everyone in the whole show, and he blew me away. Dream was not just accurate to a T, but also how I’d hoped he’d be if a show or movie was to be made. Sturridge had the presence, range, and voice to play the Lord of Dreams. He was playing a good above all goods, second only to his siblings Death and Destiny. His voice was stern, powerful, and broad. In the comics his speech bubbles were black with white lettering and the writers knew that if his voice sounded wrong, there’d be a riot at Netflix headquarters.
Dream is a surprisingly layered character who’s basically a living Infinity Stone. He’s the god that makes gods exist, but he also deals with the same problems a human would. He has crazy siblings, bad relationships, and his job is really hard. But what he is most of all is the lord of the human spirit. We are all bound to our Dream are we not?
Dream is the hero of the story, which means there needs to be a villain right? This show has five major villains in the story. Lucifer tried their best to keep one of Dream’s belongings to themselves. Desire wanted to trouble Dream with having to make a hard decision for the sake of the Dreaming. John Dee wanted the humans to be their true selves by turning everyone into maniacs. And we can’t forget about Roderick Burgess, who trapped Dream on Earth in the first place.
All these baddies were wonderful, and the performances are all worth talking about. But there was one that stood out from all of them. Boyd Holbrook’s The Corinthian was everything you’d want in a charismatic serial killer. He was cunning, devilish, and unflinchingly brutal. His eye-mouths didn’t look corny, and he always had style. His vendetta against Dream drove the entire story, and their final showdown was more than satisfactory– it was commendable.
There was one last performance that stuck out to me. That was Howell-Baptiste’s performance of Death, Dream’s older sister. She only shows up for one episode but her impact was profound. I recently dealt with a death in the family, and instead of becoming sad when watching Episode Six, I felt good. Death isn’t a villain in the story, and in no way is it the villain in real life. Death is just a part of life, and Death of The Endless is there to help everyone transition to that next part of life. It was cathartic, and I appreciated it. I also enjoyed the relationship she and Dream shared. Their sibling friendship and love was exactly like the comics. This was another part of the show that, if it had been wrong, would have alienated a lot of the fans of the comic.
This show is the best looking piece of comic book media that I watched this year. Its imagery was ripped straight out of the pages of the Sandman comic book. Things like Hell and Dream’s castle were nearly identical and looked just as cool as their comic book counterparts. I could tell that the show’s creators had a large amount of respect for the source material and wanted the viewers, whether they were old fans or had never touched an issue of the comic, to be drawn in and amazed by what we saw. It was incredibly cool to see everything from Dream’s castle to Merv Pumpkinhead be brought to the screen so flawlessly.
The incredible visuals and imagery wouldn’t mean spit if the show’s story wasn’t even good. The writing for this show is top tier, not just Emmy worthy but beyond that. The show covers two main story arcs from the comic, as well as a few side stories. I was blown away by the writing, I’m not even close to the talents of everyone involved with the show.
The story has you from the get go. I was so enthralled, I had to know what happened next even though I already had an idea of what was to come. It’s tonally different from the other action-driven superhero shows and movies that came out this year. It doesn’t have anywhere near the same amount of bloody violence that Peacemaker or The Boys have. Dream doesn’t need his fists or guns to fight, all he needs is some sand and his immense power to save the day.
The Sandman is on a higher level, a perfect mix of wonderful writing and amazing visuals. It was overflowing with good acting and pure imagination. There’s so much out there to wonder and dazzle us, and the best way to find it is after we go to sleep. The Sandman is a true wonder, and isn’t what all dreams should be?
Sandman Season One: 9.1/10
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