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Streaming Review: Slumberland

Nemo (Marlow Barkley) and Flip (Jason Momoa) embark on an epic adventure through dreams and nightmares in this new offering from Netflix. Photo: Netflix.
Nemo (Marlow Barkley) and Flip (Jason Momoa) embark on an epic adventure through dreams and nightmares in this new offering from Netflix. Photo: Netflix.

We know actor Jason Momoa as a juxtaposition of likeability and terrifying power. Many saw him for the first time as the evil character of Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones, while others witnessed him as Aqua Man – the rapscallion sea god who can do more than talk to fish. But in his latest film Slumberland, Momoa ventures into new territory – children’s films. And while he does voice a stilted Aqua Man in the animated Lego Movie sequel, this decision could be altogether bizarre – until you meet his anti-hero character of Flip.

As Flip, Momoa is a brawny outlaw, resplendent with horns and a smirk that only co-star Marlow Barkley could melt. And while Momoa gets top billing in this film about a chaotic imaginary world, the real star is Barkley as 10-year-old Nemo. An orphaned child sent to live with her boring and a-emotional uncle (Chris O’Dowd as Philip), she becomes unmoored once she leaves her reclusive lighthouse home due to the death of her father at sea.

Struggling to integrate into society and a new family, Nemo finds solace in Slumberland – the place of dreams we enter in our sleep, which her dad told her bedtime stories about. Soon after, she realises that Slumberland is real and that her father’s adventures were also apparently true. So when she falls asleep and stumbles upon Flip, she immediately identifies him as the best friend and adventure buddy of her father from his Slumberland days.

Together, they go on the hunt for magic pearls that are hidden in the deepest, darkest parts of Slumberland – the Sea of Nightmares. If found, these pearls will enable Nemo to see her dad in her dreams, and Flip will rule Slumberland after long ago forgetting his true, earthly identity.

Balancing reality and dreams, Slumberland is a quirky, adventure-filled movie that celebrates the imagination. Yet, in the midst of this, human emotion is the driving force. You can sense the tension between Nemo and her Uncle Philip. And the way that Nemo enters Slumberland – falling asleep at all hours of the day and often lying to do so, speaks of major grief and childhood trauma that her brain is trying to make sense of.

Fun and whimsical, but with shades of darkness and cheek that only Momoa can bring, Slumberland hasn’t rated well with critics; however, it could become a favourite for kids.

Pre-screening or keeping it for older kids would be best due to the themes and scary scenes. This is the definition of an imagination gone wild!

Slumberland is rated PG for Mild violence, themes, fantasy themes, and scary scenes. Streaming on Netflix.


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