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Entertainment Slumberland review: Netflix’s fantasy movie is a visual treat, but pulls its punches

Entertainment Slumberland review: Netflix’s fantasy movie is a visual treat, but pulls its punches

Slumberland review: Netflix’s fantasy movie is a visual treat, but pulls its punches

Key information

– Lands on Netflix on Friday, November 18
– Directed by Francis Lawrence
– Written by David Guion and Michael Handelman
– Based on Little Nemo short story by Winsor McCay
– Stars Jason Momoa and Marlow Barkley
– Family-friendly fantasy-based adventure movie

Netflix’s original films are typically about as cinematic as an episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Yet, with a budget of $150 million to play with, Francis Lawrence, the director who steered the last decade’s biggest YA franchise in The Hunger Games (well, three-quarters of it) helms a fantastical and conceptually intriguing film adaptation of Slumberland, a visually-dazzling spectacle loosely based on an early 20th century comic strip by Winsor McCay.

Serving as a tween-friendly answer to Inception, Slumberland is one of those rare offerings worthy of gracing the big screen. Indeed, Lawrence ensures every cent is on display, even if this new Netflix movie is very – and we mean very – loosely associated with McCay’s original work. Apart from the main character names (although even the young hero is gender-flipped) and general theme of journeying into others’ dreams, this escapade bears little resemblance to the original’s flights of fancy. 

Slumberland stars relative newcomer Marlow Barkley as Nemo, a bright young girl whose idyllic life in an isolated island lighthouse is torn apart when her widowed father Peter (Kyle Chandler) goes missing at sea. While dealing with the trauma of being orphaned aged just 11, she’s shipped off to a Toronto high-rise apartment with her estranged uncle (somewhat bizarrely, Chris O’Dowd adopting a wayward American accent).

Flip speaks quietly to Nemo as they walk through a butterfly-filled corridor in Slumberland on Netflix

Slumberland contains many awe-inspiring CGI sequences. (Image credit: Netflix)

And the culture shock couldn’t be bigger. Whereas her adventurer dad regaled her with wondrous bedtime stories that allowed her imagination to run wild (see the shadows which suddenly move of their own accord), his brother is a dour doorknob salesman with no idea of how to connect with children. “I was the first schoolkid interested in door hardware,” he proudly boasts while showing off his collection to his understandably disinterested niece.



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