Film Review – Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously
Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously
Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously is a fine film to show right before you meet the author at an event honoring him, but as a feature film it lacks depth and details to make it beyond Gaiman fanatics. The film follows Neil Gaiman on what he is calling his last book signing tour, wanting to give everyone one last chance to see him in this public persona before he devotes himself more to writing. Now I like Neil Gaiman, have enjoyed one or two of his books, but I would never call myself a fan. I know he has an interesting creative bent that makes him a different kind of writer to so many people. We get to see these fans talk about him and we feel their passion but do not gain an understanding of why.
So much of the film is Neil Gaiman waiting to sign a book or doing the signing and talking quickly to a fan, which for someone who has been touched by his writing or his persona it is easy to get excited but for me who is less enthralled with him it gets dull. This looks and feels like a film that is made for fans by a fan. There is no real attempt to dig deeper into what it is about Neil Gaiman, his writing, or his fan interactions that makes him such an interesting figure. The movie assumes that we know his books pretty well already as we are given almost no details about what they are about. We are only given the most basic details about what inspired a book in one or two sentences and then move on, never finding out what it was that made Neil Gaiman want to write it or even what it was that his fans liked about it.
This tactic of introducing ideas before moving on continues with random celebrities like Bill Hader making comments about things he has seen Neil do that can be funny at the time but no one really discusses Neil Gaiman. Author Terry Pratchett gives a little more detail since he has worked with Neil and then we find out he died last year, and hear Neil talk about him for about two minutes before moving on. There are also interviews with Neil Gaiman that are shot in quick intervals between the signings and we hear a bit about what motivates him and his work, we know he loves to write and can’t imagine doing anything else. Yet there is something missing; nothing Neil Gaiman says really sticks in any way to make it seem like we are learning anything about him.
This documentary has too much hero worship to it, becoming too cautious to really challenge or seriously dig into the subject matter and examine what it is about Gaiman that makes him fascinating. To director Patrick Meaney it is self-evident why Neil Gaiman is a great author so any time spent with him seems important no matter how little we find out, even without giving us the audience a chance to gain an understanding of our own. Instead we just hear others praise Gaiman and hear small anecdotes from him.
Beyond hardcore Neil Gaiman fanatics there is really no one else this movie is for. At a short seventy-three minutes the film started to drag with really no new information beyond the fact that we were in a new place for the book signings and how close he was to the end of the tour. Director Patrick Meaney obviously has passion for Neil Gaiman and is sharing it with those who already have that same love, but it is doubtful he will gain any new followers for Gaiman.