Monday, August 1, 2016

Stranger Things: Spoiler-Free Review

 Stranger Things follows a very unique recipe for success. A late 80s theme, mixed with a monster movie, throw in thriller elements, then add a great cast of characters on top, and you've got a TV show that exceeds all expectations and becomes an instant classic. Yes, it really is that good.

Stranger Things is the new netflix show created and directed by Matt and Ross Duffer and brings Winona Ryder (a late 80s/early 90s staple) back to us to great effect. But even though Ryder is the biggest star attached, it's the kids that really steal the show. Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will are your typical middle school kids who's friendship is made up of riding bikes, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and getting picked on by the bullies at school for being "nerds". The kids are great actors and it really feels like they've been friends their whole lives. Later on, Eleven, a girl around their age is added to the cast and she is the real stand out character. I'm not going to go into her story much, but her scenes are some of the best the show. Rounding out the cast are Sheriff Jim Hopper, an alcoholic police officer who is determined to get to the bottom of the mysteries surrounding his town, Mike's teenage sister Nancy who quickly grew into my favorite character, and Will's big brother Johnathan who starts off as an enigmatic loner but opens up as the show goes on. All of these characters bring the amazing world of Stranger Things to life and you grow to really care about them as the danger ramps up.

E.T. Meets Steven King
The story is helped along by a great soundtrack and striking cinematography. Lighting in particular is used to great effect and it becomes a powerful tool to help tell the story in the later episodes. News of a soundtrack release for the show was met with applause and now I understand why. The short length of the season, only 8 episodes, helps the show keep a brisk pace so no screen time is wasted with any filler. They do leave a few loose ends, no doubt to leave room for a second season but I would have preferred if they had come to a hard stop instead, leaving this season to stand completely on its own but it's a minor gripe. I would recommend Stranger Things to everyone, even people who are scared easily. While it does have scary moments, it has more of a thriller tone than one of horror. Hopefully the next season can go on to even greater heights but regardless of what comes next, these 8 episodes stand high in the pantheon of what TV shows have to offer.
The Face You Make Multiple Times an Episode

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