Review: ‘Slumberland Aims For Enchantment, But Gets Lost

Review: ‘Slumberland Aims For Enchantment, But Gets Lost

Winsor McCoy's early 20th century cartoon about Dreamland and the adventures of Little Nemo served as the very loose inspiration for Netflix's latest big-budget show, Dreamland.

It's a popular children's fantasy in the wildly colorful spirit of Alice in Wonderland, with a horny Jason Momoa playing a Jack Sparrow-Beetlejuice cross on an adventure with a quiet 11-year-old girl. Kyle Chandler with the plush beard and fisherman sweater competes with Chris Evans' knife out look. It's tough and weird and looks like they had a huge VFX budget to play with So why is Dreamland no longer attractive?

Yes, it's a heartbreaking story after all: Chandler, the sweater-wearing single father who owns Nemo Marlowe Berkeley's lighthouse, is lost at sea at the very beginning, and we spend the rest of the movie following him. Find a way to reunite with him. But Dreamland is also a dream treasure hunt, haunted by nightmares and dream police, and Flip Momoa, a villain in shiny jacquards who has forgotten who he is in the real world, describes himself as "a restless mix of father figure and subdued masculinity.'

Dreamland is the brainchild of Francis Lawrence, director of the last three Hunger Games films, working from a story written by Michael Gendelman and David Guyon (Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb). This is a team that has a lot of experience in creating great, bright and fun shows for teenagers So it's a bit of a headache that Dreamland can't impress.

After losing his father, Nemo is cared for by his ex-brother Philip (Chris O'Dowd, who takes care of his deranged dog), who takes him from the postcard world to the lighthouse and the big city. Where he lives in an elegant skyscraper that looks like it came out of a showroom. He apparently makes a lot of money selling doorknobs, which must become part of the plot at some point.

There, a sleepy Nemo is transported to Dreamland, meets Flip, whom he recognizes from his father's bedtime stories, and they conspire to find a magical pearl that will grant their every wish. To do this, they have to dream through other people's subconscious, in case you're wondering where that was to begin with.

But here the dreamers are just the makers of the world, and their dreams are strange, shiny, inspired, like a woman doing salsa in a bob hall with butterfly dancers. Was it just a visual they thought was cool? Because neither he nor Prajapati have anything to do other than cross the house trying to escape Dream Cop Agent Green (Veruch Opiah). As such, the large, colorful scenery of Dreamland looks more like a random virtual reality world that is less fully developed than a real human dream. At the very least, they could have multiple Ready Player One quest rooms to raise the excitement and stakes.

Dreamland is not a horror movie, and it might just spark your imagination or touch your heart (although adorable kids crying for their dead parents is a piece of cake). But it could be so much more if it didn't get bogged down in its over-the-top brilliance, which is tiresome after all.

Dreamland, released Friday in select theaters on Netflix, received a PG rating from the Motion Picture Association for "danger, action, language, some thematic elements and suggestive references." Duration: 120 minutes. Four outs are two bigs.


MPA PG Definition: Use of parental controls is recommended.


Follow AP staff columnist Lindsey Barr on Twitter:

Home Sweet Home 2015

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