(director: Francis Lawrence; screenwriters: David Guion/Michael Handelman; cinematographer: Joe Willems; editor: Mark Yoshikawa; music: Pinar Toprak; cast: Jason Momoa (Flip), Marlow Barkley (Nemo), Chris O’Dowd (Philip), Kyle Chandler (Peter), Weruche Opia (Agent Green), Humberly Gonzalez (Graciela), India de Beaufort (Ms Arya), Cameron Nicoll (Young Philip); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Jenne Topping/Peter Chernin/ Francis Lawrence/David Ready; Netflix; 2022)

“An unimaginative adaptation of an imaginative 20th-century comic strip.

Reviewed by Dennis SchwartzThe director of many of the Hunger Games films, Francis Lawrence (“Red Sparrow”/”Touch”), directs this big budget ($150m) family friendly fantasy/adventure film for kids, that’s written by David Guion and Michael Handelman. It’s an unimaginative adaptation of an imaginative 20th-century comic strip centered around the character of the boy Little Nemo that was created by cartoonist Winsor McCay. Nemo dreams he’s in surreal new worlds and faces dangers dealing with things there until he awakens. Here he’s a girl played by Marlow Barkley, who dwells in a lighthouse on a remote island with her father (Kyle Chandler).

The film moves from one strange set-piece to the next as Nemo follows her dream-travelling father’s footsteps. After his death, she lives with her estranged uncle (Chris O’Dowd). In her dreams she meets Flip (Jason Momoa), someone her father used to sleep travel with.  He tells her of a myth, a pearl that would allow her to control her dreams. Thereby they try to find in their adventure that rare pearl.

The search involves dangerously travelling through the dreams of others. But it bored me when I had to learn a series of rules about entering the dreams of others and the film lost its ebb and flow.

When it’s humming, we’re treated to odd sights like butterflies doing a salsa dance and viewing a city of glass skyscrapers.

Momoa’s aims to ape the Johnny Depp rowdy performance trip in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but comes up short.

Its major fault is the story doesn’t warrant a 2 hour length. Though it’s not a bad film, but one that’s not fully realized.


REVIEWED ON 1/23/2023  GRADE: C+