If you’re a child in a movie who has to deal with a tragedy – Disney, for example, has a habit of doing away with parents – then it helps to have a magical land to visit and an eccentric companion to act as a guide.
The new fantasy adventure adapts the comic strip and book ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’, written by Winsor McCay and appearing between 1905 and 1927. Nemo (a boy in the books) originated in McCay’s comic strip ‘Dream of the Rarebit Fiend’ and was popular enough to earn his own spin-off.
In the movie, written by ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ duo Michael Handelman and David Guion, and directed by ‘The Hunger Games’ veteran Francis Lawrence, we’re introduced to precocious Nemo (here a young girl played by Marlow Barkley) and her eccentric companion Flip (Jason Momoa), who embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
After her father Peter (Kyle Chandler) is unexpectedly lost at sea, young Nemo’s idyllic Pacific Northwest existence is completely upended when she is sent to live in the city with her well-meaning but deeply awkward uncle Phillip (Chris O’Dowd).
Her new school and new routine are challenging by day but at night, a secret map to the fantastical world of Slumberland connects Nemo to Flip, a rough-around-the-edges but lovable outlaw who quickly becomes her partner and guide. She and Flip soon find themselves on an incredible journey traversing dreams and fleeing nightmares, where Nemo begins to hope that she will be reunited with her father once again…
From the looks of this, ‘Slumberland’ promises to be visually inventive and wild, as Nemo and Flip skip between different dream worlds.
But there’s also seemingly a threat from Agent Green (Weruche Opia), who looks to keep a lock on Nemo and Flip’s adventures, a little like a fantasy version of the TVA from ‘Loki’.
Momoa, meanwhile, is clearly having a blast, bringing the sort of charm that has made the likes of ‘Aquaman’ a winner to a kid-friendly tale of hope, imagination and learning to live without the people we lose. Flip is the sort of character kids always enjoy meeting – he’s full of life and even though he explains the rules of the dreaming land, he’s not afraid to bend (or break) them if it means having fun.
For his part, Lawrence has brought some different worlds to life – there are probably far fewer kids forced to kill each other here as, say, his ‘Hunger Games’ movies, and likely not that many undead creatures, as in ‘I Am Legend’.
‘Slumberland’ will be on Netflix on November 18th.