Slumberland is a fantasy adventure movie on Netflix starring Jason Momoa, Marlow Barkley, Chris O’Dowd, and Kyle Chandler. Nemo(Barkley) was living her best life. Growing up on a small, secluded island with her father(Chandler), who tends the lighthouse there, the two spent their days in peace, enjoying a simple yet meaningful and happy existence. Till one stormy night, when her father is taken from her suddenly, she is forced to go and live with her Uncle Philip(O’Dowd), whom she has never met. But there may be a way to find her father again and live back in those happy days, even if only in her dreams.
Loss and the trauma that comes with it can be a challenging weight to carry. When the world without her dad feels far too cold and alien to deal with, Nemo soon finds herself escaping into the dream world, where she hopes to find a mythical pearl that can grant her any dream she wants, including getting to see her dad every time she closes her eyes at night. But the journey is perilous, and to navigate the twisted world of Slumberland, Nemo finds herself joining up with Flip(Mamoa), a character from her father’s bedtime stories who claims he can make her wish come true.
Slumberland‘s dual journies, in the dreaming world and the waking one, simultaneously enchant and move the viewer emotionally as it explores its themes of loss and acceptance. The world of dreams does a great job of attempting to capture the random, eternally shifting nature of dreams as it delivers some truly unique moments that absolutely feel like the stuff of dreams. But with dreams come nightmares, and a ghostly sea monster is stalking Nemo at every turn, driving her to face her greatest fears.
While the centerpiece of Slumberland‘s narrative is Nemo’s journey, one of the biggest surprises is how much the movie also explores the surrounding cast. Both her Uncle Philip and her dreamland guide Flip have far deeper roles to play in the story than the viewer may first suspect. They have their own traumas and struggles to engage with, and the movie does a great job of giving those two just as worthwhile a payoff as it does its star.
The emotional moments of this movie make the strongest impact, but there is plenty of fun to be had as well. Momoa’s performance as the roguish, past-his-prime adventurer Flip delivers many moments that will have you rolling your eyes, but in the best of ways. Also helping to lighten the mood is Nemo’s stuffed pig, Pig. Coming to life in her dreams, Pig provides a fun, charming energy to every scene and even comes through to save the day in more than one harrowing moment.
As mentioned, Slumberland takes its star on a journey through some unique and exciting locales. As one might expect, many of these settings feature a heavy amount of CGI work. While the levels of CGI are high, the movie takes care not to overextend its reach with what it can properly deliver. The villainous sea monster is made up of tendrils of black smoke, and in one particularly eye-catching sequence, salsa dancers formed of tightly grouped butterflies swirl across a dance floor with abandon. Each of these elements is wonderful to behold.
When all is said and done, Slumberland delivers a fantastic journey that both entertains and delights while taking a serious and heartfelt approach to its themes of loss, trauma, and moving on with life.
Slumberland is streaming now on Netflix.
- Rating - 9/109/10
Slumberland delivers a fantastic journey that both entertains and delights while taking a serious and heartfelt approach to its themes of loss, trauma, and moving on with life.