Stranger Things Review
Stranger Things is the popular new Netflix series that is a tribute to 80s pop culture.
This review started as a vehicle to help share the “Strangify” site, in which you can turn whatever text you’d like into the Stranger Things logo. (I used it to create my blog post image.) Click here to use the app. I decided to write a review, too, so this post was worth reading.
Stranger Things is a lot of fun, and a must-watch for fans of 80s cinema/culture. It’s very well done and generally deserves all the hype it’s getting.
- The acting. The cast is perfect, and a special mention should be made of the child actors. Child characters can be tough to get right, but this series does it. The kids have conflicts, they have fears. They fight, they swear, they play. They’re like real children, and as a child in the 80s I could really relate to this group of kids. The young actress who plays the creepy girl, Eleven (pictured), is pitch perfect. She’s weird but sympathetic at the same time.
- The story (for the most part). After the first episode hooked me, I was a little bit nervous that the filmmakers would try to add on another mystery after each episode and then fall apart at the end when they bit off more than they could chew. Fortunately, this was not the case. The story was involved, but simple enough to be coherent. I liked how the over-arching story was played out amongst the three groups: the adults, the teens, and the kids. Each group had their own perspective on the strange things happening in their town, and it was completely relatable despite the supernatural elements.
- The setting. The show takes place in a small Indiana town in 1983. The story had to be set in a simpler time, without the distractions of the internet, iPhones, and video games. The time and place lends itself perfectly to the story, and allows for some pretty clever easter eggs for the sharp viewers.
- The twists. Stranger Things takes a few cliches and turns them on their heads. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll try to give vague examples. First, the jerk boyfriend cliche turned out to be heroic. There’s another scene in which the kids were riding their bikes and I thought the story was going to rip off E.T. The filmmakers went another direction with it, and it was one of the most exciting surprises of the series. Bravo!
- The nostalgia. This is the biggest draw to the series, and the aspect handled the best. Stranger Things takes elements of 80s Speilberg, John Carpenter, and Stephen King, and meshes it into something unique and special. None of the tributes seemed like rip-offs.
Though Stranger Things is a great watch, it’s not perfect. I really only have two issues with it.
- The monster. The monster wasn’t terrible, mind you. However, after the build-up and excellent jump scares in earlier episodes, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat disappointed by the creature’s design and modus operandi.
- The ending. Stranger Things wrapped up its story in eight episodes. It should just be a miniseries. If they want to make Season Two, it should become an anthology and switch to a different story. The filmmakers tried to have it both ways: they wrapped it up but left a loophole to dive back in. It felt a bit cheap, and it ruins the resolution.
Despite those cons, Stranger Things is a fun time and a great work of nostalgia. If you’re a fan of 80s movies, horror, and/or sci-fi, you should definitely give it a watch. I was hooked after the first episode and I think you will be, too.
Story: ★★★★ of 5
Drama: ★★★★½ of 5
Visuals: ★★★★ of 5
Overall: ★★★★½ of 5
Half in the Bag is one of my favorite YouTube series, and they did a review of Stranger Things. Typically, they only review movies, but the justification for the review is that it’s basically just a long movie. I tend to agree. Enjoy!
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