‘The Sandman’ Review: A Stunning Slow Burn of a Netflix Series

The Sandman has finally arrived on Netflix, and the adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth’s comic series will appeal to fans of the source material and newcomers alike. The Sandman Season 1 opens with a gripping premise, and it continues to pull viewers into compelling storylines. It weaves Morpheus’ (Tom Sturridge) adventures together while delivering stunning cinematography, thought-provoking character arcs, and A+ performances. Although the first season is a bit of a slow burn, it’s well worth diving into.

An image for 'The Sandman' review indicating that we gave it 4 stars.

Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ opens with a gripping premise

Netflix’s The Sandman kicks off with a grieving Sir Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) attempting to summon Death. He believes doing so will bring his recently deceased son back from the grave. Unfortunately, the spell he casts doesn’t call forth Death. Instead, he traps Morpheus (Tom Sturridge), the Lord of Dreams — and fearing retaliation, he keeps him imprisoned in his estate for decades.

Of course, Morpheus — also called Dream — eventually manages to escape his prison. But by then, his realm, dubbed the Dreaming, has withered and decayed. All the beings that once called it home have scattered. And even the waking world suffers unusual phenomena while Morpheus is absent.

This sends Sturridge’s character on a series of adventures as he attempts to set things right. He’s tasked with finding the artifacts that grant him his powers, as well as tracking down the beings he once surrounded himself with. This takes him — and the audience — on a series of spellbinding missions, all of which come together to form a truly captivating season of television.

Tom Sturridge’s Morpheus takes viewers on a journey full of intriguing characters

Tom Sturridge and Kyo Ra as Morpheus and Rose Walker in 'The Sandman' for our review of the Netflix series. The characters are walking side by side in a graveyard.
Tom Sturridge and Kyo Ra in ‘The Sandman’ | Liam Daniel/Netflix

Although Dream has one main goal throughout The Sandman, season 1 of the Netflix series is comprised of many moving parts. The show feels episodic at times, moving from one tale to the next and weaving them together as it goes. And while that format may not be for everyone, it does make each player feel like a lead in their own right.

There’s no shortage of fascinating characters throughout The Sandman, and the cast does an impressive job of bringing them to life. Sturridge captures a great deal of nuance with the show’s lead, and he’s not the only one with layers.

The other Endless are just as intriguing, each of them boasting their own objectives and complex feelings toward their siblings. Kirby Howell-Baptiste is a standout as Death. And Gwendoline Christie’s Lucifer holds plenty of potential should The Sandman get a season 2, as does Mason Alexander Park’s Desire.

The human characters featured throughout Morpheus’ adventures are no less likable. Fans will find themselves growing deeply invested in the likes of Rose Walker (Vanesu Samunyai), Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), and even John Dee (David Thewlis). Boyd Holbrook’s Corinthian will also keep viewers glued to the screen, as he’s as unpredictable as he is vicious.

The downside of The Sandman having such a large cast is that you’ll probably find yourself wishing for more of everyone involved in the show. Each character gets just enough time to see their arc through. However, it feels like we’re forced to bid farewell to them just as soon as we’ve gotten to know them.

The Netflix series is stunning but a bit of a slow burn

There’s plenty to love about Netflix’s The Sandman, but it’s worth noting that the show is a bit of a slow burn. While season 1 opens with a gripping premise, the plot doesn’t move forward at a fast pace. Things pick up considerably near the halfway point, which is when the series starts building toward the season’s climax. The slower installments explore worthwhile themes, but the pacing and structure of the show may not appeal to every viewer.

That said, those who enjoy dark fantasy will no doubt appreciate The Sandman‘s stunning cinematography. The imagery blends horror with the fantastical, and the series combines those elements in its storylines as well. Anyone who enjoys the supernatural will no doubt fall headfirst into Netflix’s newest release. And they likely won’t be disappointed with what they find.

The Sandman is now streaming on Netflix.

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