A real roller coaster? Perhaps this is the most accurate way to describe the career of Hollywood’s regular heartthrob, Jason Momoa. He started in Baywatch Hawaii, and then in Stargate: Atlantis, he became such a favorite of many that the now 43-year-old actor even bagged the lead role in 2011’s Conan the Barbarian. After that, he was also chosen to play Khal Drogo, the tough Dothraki ruler of Game of Thrones, following a somewhat similar line, but the HBO series almost ruined Momoa’s career, who was unable to find work after it was written out. Because in the entertainment industry, it’s been recorded that this guy doesn’t know English. Jason Momoa had to make his own movie so he wouldn’t starve to death, and even though he wasn’t critically acclaimed in 2014’s Wild Strike, he put our hero back on the map.
Since then, of course, Jason Momoa has been very busy, and he probably doesn’t have too many problems financially, after all, he is the Aquaman of the DC film universe, one of the few superheroes that Warner Bros. hasn’t replaced yet. But in the last couple of years, we have seen Momoa in Dune, shot in Hungary, in the series The Northern Frontier, and let’s not forget about the post-apocalyptic sci-fi See, which is one of the successful series on Apple TV+. In fact, its current flagship.
On November 18, Netflix premiered the new movie Slumberland, about which we previously only knew that it somehow adapts a very old 1905 comic book, Little Nemo in Slumberland, into a modern environment, and that Momoa is a stupid painter, he will play a guy with horns on his head. Obviously, we sat down in front of him out of curiosity, and maybe because we didn’t expect too much good, we had a lot of fun during these two classes.
The story of Dreamland is about a little girl, Nemo (Marlow Barkley), who lives with her father, Peter (Kyle Chandler), in a lighthouse. The couple’s life could be sad and lonely, but they liven up everyday life by playing the piano, singing together and telling evening stories. However, one stormy evening, when the man is alerted to a ship in trouble, Nemo’s life changes radically. The father dies, leaving the child in the care of the father’s rather dull and very unspiritual brother, Philip (Chris O’Dowd).
Where does the adventure even begin in this movie? It would be more accurate to ask when… because one night Nemo lays his head down to sleep, and then something strange happens to him. He finds himself in dreamland, in the company of a loud monk, Flip (Jason Momoa). The two protagonists don’t do much bowling, the conman, obviously inspired by Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, tells the little girl the rules: if they follow a mysterious map and jump into other people’s dreams, they can find special pearls that fulfill their heart’s greatest desire. The thing gives itself to Nemo, he would like to talk to his deceased father once more, even if only in his dreams. Uccu him then… the cloudless fun could begin, except that there are laws and policemen in Dreamland too, and a particularly determined female detective (Weruche Opia) is on the trail of the impossible duo.
Compared to the fact that Dreamland is more of a harmless family film aimed at younger viewers, it is surprisingly entertaining. It’s not boring at all, the story has depth, the characters are lovable and you can get excited for them. Visually, the overall picture is more mixed, alternating between beautifully photographed scenes and scenes filled with completely crappy CGI. The latter are so disturbing that it almost pops our eyes out.
Devastating, we didn’t expect this level from Francis Lawrence, who directed three out of four Hunger Games movies and was able to make a splash with the rather high budget of 150 million dollars this time as well.
What’s more, we would like to note here the feature that made our jaws drop, but not in a good way: Dreamland completely ignores the multi-story married-reality-bending motif seen in the movie Inception and since then overused in Hollywood, among others by Doctor Strange. Only visually much weaker, really, as if we were watching a parody. This dream was well shot anyway, because during the car chase, it was as if a guide from a video game released in the early 2000s was playing on the screen.
On the other hand, perhaps no one will be surprised by the fact that Momoa’s character of Flip, who makes a lot of fools, suits Momoa well until the end, despite the fact that there really was no originality in the groundhog who wanted the title of the most wanted criminal in the Land of Dreams. Compared to him, the child actor, Marlow Barkley, is already much weaker, the up-and-coming little girl playing Nemo didn’t really know what to do with the texts, which she reveals were written by 40-50-year-old screenwriters. At least Barkley fits well with Kyle Chandler, who plays his father, but the problem is that Peter is written out at the very beginning.
In Dreamland, it can be seen that not only did they try to force it down our throats with a big adventure reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia (not in a bad way), jokes and a cuckolded Jason Momoa, but the tragic background story of the main characters really works and moves you. Thus, all of this makes Dreamland stand out from the sea of average family films. Especially the Netflix crap.
It is true, in terms of the playing time, it could have been cut much lower from Netflix’s new fantasy film, in some scenes it was felt that it did not make it to the table in the editing room only because the streaming service intended Dreamland to be a franchise-launching work of around 120 minutes. Is there anyone else here who is otherwise bored with this continuous, multi-film-multi-series universe building that everyone is pushing so hard these days? We really are, and although this intention leaves its mark on Dreamland only a little, it is still felt to be present. Damage. We like movies that have a beginning, middle, and end, a satisfying conclusion, and don’t bother us with unnecessary sequels.
Slumberland is available on Netflix with dubbing and Hungarian subtitles.