‘Stranger Things’ TV Review.

Grade: B+

Stranger Things Movie Poster

The way ‘Stranger Things’ feels to me is like a breath of fresh air; a lot of Netflix shows these days are so modern and like to fill our hearts with joy (‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘BoJack Horseman’, ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’). Then all of a sudden, a show like this one comes along and takes you back to when phones felt like walkie-talkies, silverware was neatly placed in drawers, and homes looked fresh and new. It was the era of the 80’s; and although I wasn’t born in that decade, I could tell that it was a great one.

I have seen plenty of great films from the 80’s, especially ones that fit in the science-fiction/horror genre. (‘The Fly’ remake, ‘Christine’, ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’, etc.) ‘Stranger Things’ looks and feels almost like one of those films of the past. There’s talk of alternate dimensions, monsters of terrifying sight, mystery, and telepathy. In fact, it feels like one of those novels Stephen King wrote. (or at least one of the movies based on his work.) I can’t really tell you much about this show, except that you have to see it for yourself.

Its lighting is very dark and fitting for whatever tone it is trying to convey; whether it be a dark green for the spooky alternate dimension scenes, or a toned-down dimness for its dramatic 80’s feel. The performances are really great and powerful as well. Winona Ryder plays a woman named Joyce Byers, who is desperate to keep in contact with her missing son named Will (Noah Schnapp, who voiced Charlie Brown in ‘The Peanuts Movie’) and she portrays plenty of emotion while doing so. David Harbour plays a policeman named Jim Hopper who is willing to help her out, yet has some problems of his own. (And a bit of a troubling back story that feels a bit shoehorned during its final episode.)

While the adults make up for the great performances, it is definitely the child stars that make most of the chemistry and help make the show what it is. They do feel like the kids from ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Stand By Me’, but are worth the watch. There’s another kid named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who befriends the likes of Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) who serves a major part of this story. I can’t say who she is or where she comes from, but Brown’s performance is of quiet sincerity and her character is much more helpful than she seems. There are also a couple of teens that tie this series of episodes together: Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Mike’s sister, who is a bit of a rebel; and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), who proves to be an asset when looking for Will, his brother. Their subplot is entertaining, but feels more like a clichéd 80’s high school romance with its set-up.

I admit that there is some predictability with some characters and how they build, but one major flaw I have to tell you about is how the monster feels and looks CGI, instead of a practical effect. For the most part, however, ‘Stranger Things’ is engaging and will keep you entertained. There are a total of only 8 episodes this season, so if you haven’t watched the show yet, view it sparingly, so you don’t feel upset when you’re done.  

 

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