Binge-worthy: The Sandman is a rich, fantastical tale about stories

Tom Sturridge in The Sandman. PHOTO: NETFLIX

The Sandman

Netflix
4 stars

The ambitious live-action adaptation of Neil Gaiman's highly celebrated graphic novel series The Sandman is finally here.

In the dark fantasy story, an immortal being as old as the universe is imprisoned for over a century by black magic occultists. It is none other than the king of dreams (Tom Sturridge) - known variously as Dream, Morpheus or the Sandman.

When he emerges from captivity, he finds his realm of Dreaming in tatters and sets about rebuilding it. Along the way, he is confronted with the consequences of his past decisions and long-held principles.

Here are three reasons to watch the show.

1. Rich, intricate lore

One of the things that sets The Sandman apart is its rich and intricate lore, and the show manages to outline it effectively without falling into overt exposition.

Morpheus is one of the Endless, a family of immortal beings who personify certain key human experiences. His siblings include Death, Despair and Desire, who rule over their own domains.

The rules and background of this world, nuggets of information about Morpheus' powers, his romantic history and his often complicated relationship with his siblings are sprinkled throughout the series.

This keeps viewers who have never read the graphic novel series engaged without burdening them with too much information.

2. A story about stories

Dreams are people's imagination, aspirations and fears, and the stories they tell themselves at night. And The Sandman is ultimately a tale about storytelling and the hold it has over people.

Stories are sometimes a form of solace, like when an abused child dreams of being a superhero in his sleep, but they can also be a curse.

For example, the biblical brothers Cain and Abel are caught in an endless cycle of violence because they are unable to escape their story - that of the first murderer and first victim.

3. Colourful side characters

Tom Sturridge and Gwendoline Christie in The Sandman. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Morpheus is surrounded by compelling characters with meaty backstories.

Despite having limited screen time, British actor Ferdinand Kingsley gives such a delightful performance as Hob Gadling, Morpheus' mortal friend who has been kept alive for hundreds of years, that one wishes for a spin-off series about him.

The same goes for Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), a modern-day exorcist with a traumatic past who is entirely unfazed when faced with the king of dreams.

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