In Slumberland, Nemo is a young girl who lives with her father. The pair live in a lighthouse, keep themselves to themselves, and have a very happy existence.
But one night, Nemo has a very vivid dream, which ends with her father lost at sea. The next morning, she wakes to discover her dream has come true, and she is now an orphan.
With no other family, except an estranged uncle, Nemo is forced to leave the lighthouse and move into the city. During her first night in her new home, she has another vivid dream, where she travels back to the lighthouse.
Although Nemo hopes to see her father in this ‘dream home’, she is surprised to meet a strange creature instead. The creature is called Flip, and he is in the lighthouse looking for a map which will lead him to treasure.
Flip believes that Nemo will be able to help him, so suggests they strike a deal. If she agrees to aid him in his quest, he will ensure she can see her father again.
After agreeing to his terms, Nemo and Flip team up and set off on a magical adventure, which takes place in Nemo’s dreams. But will Nemo get to see her father again, or will her dreamworld descend into a nightmare?
Directed by Francis Lawrence, Slumberland stars Jason Momoa, Marlow Barkley, Kyle Chandler, and Chris O’Dowd. Slumberland is based on the comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, and arrives on Netflix today.
It’s worth noting that this is not the first movie based on the Little Nemo comic strip; an animated musical was released in 1989. However, while that film proved popular with critics at the time, it bombed at the box office, failing to make back its budget.
Had this latest movie been released in cinemas, it is debatable as to whether this too would be a financial success or not. On the one hand, the presence of Jason Momoa is sure to get punters parting with their cash; while on the other hand, the film is not quite as magical as it could be, and Momoa is a bit irritating in the role of Flip.
Mumbling his way through this movie, Jason Momoa plays Flip like a cut-price Beetlejuice. He pops up sporadically, cracks a few jokes here and there, and acts a bit edgy.
Young audiences might like what he brings to the screen, but I personally found his schtick quite tiresome. Momoa is fine as an actor, and I generally like him in other films, but his performance here runs out of steam within minutes.
However, he’s not the only problem that Slumberland suffers from; the film is quite slow, there is an over-reliance on CGI, and at times the whole thing feels empty and soulless. Too much of the movie consists of Momoa and Marlow Barkley (in the role of Nemo) moving from one CGI backdrop to the next and this becomes repetitive quite quickly.
This movie desperately needs more depth, more support actors, and a little more substance. The picture feels as if it was all shot on a sound stage, and filmed on a holiday weekend, when almost every actor in the world was busy doing anything but this.
Moving away from the less successful parts of the movie and onto something more positive, what does work for Slumberland is Marlow Barkley. The young actor is great in the role of Nemo, and she stands out as the film’s brightest star.
Barkley is able to cope with all of the CGI, she doesn’t get distracted by anything that Momoa is doing, and she brings heart to the picture. She carries huge swathes of this movie on her shoulders, and it would be less successful without her.
Slumberland also benefits from a good performance from Chris O’Dowd as Nemo’s uncle; some solid lighting and music; and some imaginative imagery. Despite my frustrations with all the CGI, there are a number of scenes which are very effective, and the film does its best to create an intriguing dreamworld.
Oh, and there is also a CGI pig which looks cute. If I take one thing away from this movie, it is the pig.
All of the positive aspects of the film (especially the pig) keep the movie afloat, and elevate Slumberland to the point where it is entirely watchable, even if it is less interesting than the sum of its parts. I can’t help but think it would have been a better movie if the director had dropped 20 minutes from the runtime, shot a few more scenes outside, and had a word with Momoa, but it’s a bit too late for all that now, isn’t it?
However, the story is all there and it is fine in places. It didn’t quite work for me, but it might just about work for others.
2 Responses to Review: Slumberland (2022)
Got to agree with you on this. I found it very boring and slow in places. The saving grace was the pig.
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If there’s a sequel, let’s hope it’s called Slumberpig!