Slumberland Movie review: Jason Momoa in Francis Lawrence’s harmless Netflix childhood picture

Slumberland Movie review:

Slumberland movie review: Jason Momoa in Francis Lawrence’s harmless Netflix childhood picture

A young girl (Marlow Barkley) follows an outlaw (Momoa) through other people’s dreams in this fantasy adventure adapted from a classic comic book.

In the early 20th century, a widely circulated newspaper cartoon followed the adventures of little Nemo in Slumberland: each strip told a dream that starts out great but quickly turns weird, until our boy hero abruptly wakes up to find himself . which it shouldn’t. I ate so much just before bed. Each installment was a full page, with playful composition and dazzling colors, full of cartoonist Winsor McCay’s imagination and charm. It was a masterpiece. (And great reissues, while expensive, aren’t hard to find.)

Francis Lawrence’s Slumberland borrows its title and the name of this strip’s hero (although this Nemo is a girl and older than his namesake), as well as the idea of ​​traveling through dreams that become dangerous. For one of the film’s posters, Netflix goes further, taking visual themes and typography from the comic, bolstering early reports that the film was an adaptation.

Why would they take so much trouble to appeal to the only viewers who are likely to hate (or, for that matter, have a strong reaction) to this movie? Francis Lawrence’s Slumberland borrows its title and the name of this strip’s hero (although this Nemo is a girl and older than his namesake), as well as the idea of ​​traveling through dreams that become dangerous.

For one of the film’s posters, Netflix goes further, taking visual themes and typography from the comic, bolstering early reports that the film was an adaptation. Why would they take so much trouble to appeal to the only viewers who are likely to hate (or, for that matter, have a strong reaction) to this film?

Then, during a bad night’s sleep in Phillip’s posh apartment, Nemo’s four-poster bed creaks on her outstretched legs (a cute joke and one of the few clear connections to the comic) and he whisks her away to a strange new world, that of dreams. He soon meets Flip (Jason Momoa), a huge man with tusks, deer ears and ram horns. (Even with these distractions, her Trish Summerville-designed outfits hold our attention.) Nemo knows Flip from his father’s stories of his “outlaw” youth: They were best friends as kids, but somehow Flip got trapped in the realm. of the unconscious. Having lived with his own bad-boy mythology for several decades, that’s too much: Momoa’s take on comic weirdness seems to be indebted to Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice.

But he tries to be a team player, enlisting the boy in the usual quest: perilous journeys, magical pearls, nightmares that haunt you when they smell your fear. Luckily, this family quest takes our heroes to fun places. There’s a map of secret doors that leads from one person’s dreams to another, sending us up a whimsical daisy chain: We might start in a Cuban ballroom where all the dancers are made of thousands of butterflies, then slip into a car chase where a monster truck is driven by a schoolboy whose haircut is so big it could fall under his weight.

Playing as Origin for elementary school kids, these lively sequences allow Lawrence and his teams to create many bright and colorful worlds, some so sweetened with digital effects that you could beg for a single view without juggling like a palate cleanser. Instead, what you get is the brooding glow of Phillip’s apartment, where we’re reminded of all the real-life things — grief, abandonment, conformity — that the film thinks Nemo has to digest in order to grow. Never mind that Winsor McCay’s cartoon was almost as anti-growth as Seinfeld was: the strip could only go on if Nemo continued to ignore his mother’s advice about bedtime snacks and have all the dreams that indigestion entails.

It was more than a century ago when children were expected to understand much more on their own. For all the superficial savagery of Lawrence’s Slumberland, it’s about following the rules of any family photo you can find.

Slumberland

THE BOTTOM LINE

A genial adaptation that shouldn’t be confused with the source material.

Release date: Saturday, November 18 (Netflix)

Cast: Marlow Barkley, Jason Momoa, Chris O’Dowd, Kyle Chandler, Weruche Opia

Director: Francis Lawrence

Screenwriters: David Guion, Michael Handelman

Rated PG, 2 hours

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