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‘The Sandman’ Almost Does Justice to Neil Gaiman’s Masterpiece

For decades, Hollywood has sought to bring Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman to the big screen and, for decades, those dreams have been dashed like the fragile things they are. Small wonder, given how intricate and strange Gaiman’s gothic fairy tale about a master of dreams turned out to be. The graphic novel seemed almost unfilmable by design. But Gaiman finally figured that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, and took point on getting the book adapted for Netflix.

The result is a faithful retelling of the beloved story, a season of TV that largely follows the first few volumes of The Sandman no matter how complicated the lore, kooky the plot or bizarre the individuals. Most fans of The Sandman will probably love it, with much of the dialogue, set and even camera angles ripped directly from the comic itself.

And newcomers? Well, they’ll probably understand what all the fuss around the source material is shortly. In short, a supernatural master of dreams is captured by an amateur sorcerer on a lucky first try and, after freeing himself, has to get busy putting “The Dreaming” back in order. His ensuing adventures take him across time and space, waking and sleeping, Heaven and Hell, where he and the mortals he meets must wrestle with questions of life, death and meaning. It has moments of tear-jerking beauty, but it’s often uncomfortable. It has moments of stomach-churning horror, but it’s often gentle.

It’s all a little heady, but if you’re in the mood for That Kind of Stuff then Gaiman’s definitely your guy.

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The graphic novel had an array of spectacular artists at its disposal, many of whom crafted an adventure unlike anything else in modern fiction. Netflix has grown pretty stingy with its purse strings lately, and that same wonder can’t quite be captured on a tight VFX budget. But as a story and a showcase for actor Tom Sturridge, The Sandman delivers.

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