So lets talk Stranger Things… I was behind a few days and was able to hear some of the feedback from some friends and it was safe to say the reactions ranged from “I hated it, it sucked” to “It was amazing, just as good as the first two seasons.” After pacing myself and watching about two episodes a day, I was able to sleep on my thoughts and think about what specifically worked and what did not work. Spoilers ahead, be aware.
What worked? The visuals. The visuals are incredible and took the theme that the first two season cemented and made it bigger, more fun and even more 80’s. The whole mall setting was very fucking cool and was able to offer us some masterfully done color and cinematography work. The blend of the warm and cools that come off the neon signs and moonlight was so aesthetically pleasing and by far my favorite aspect to this season. The visuals are half the reason this series has such a draw to it and it proved to be better than ever this time around.
The soundtrack and camera work is incredible as well. The way it is shot is masterful and unique. The score this season was amazing and part of the reason I enjoyed the 8 episodes as a whole. The music they chose every time the Mind Flayer and the Flayed were on screen was brilliant and suspenseful. Not many things I would change about that at all.
What didn’t work? A whole lot unfortunately. The story line was sub par and very lazy at times. It felt like they were so focused on making the monster bigger and badder that they forgot how to keep us entertained and surprised by the revelations going on with the characters we have come to love. Don’t get me wrong, it was still well written and entertaining but compared to the first season (which was the best), it lacked a certain energy and surprise element that I was left waiting for at times. Far too many coincidences or last second saving of lives to stay realistic and attention grabbing.
For some reason, it bothers me to my core when your favorite characters are in situations over and over again that no man on earth could survive, only to be saved by a last second effort and heroic moment. If it happens once, then ok cool. But after the 6th time it gets stale and frustrating. Even though these are fictional stories, it is good to keep your audience on their toes with unique story telling and fresh ways to introduce suspense. That is what I mean when I say it was lazy. It is very simple to build suspense when you put your main characters in fatal situations only to be bailed out over and over and over again. It gets to a point where it’s like “someone die already”.
Now with the whole Russia thing, it felt forced and somewhat comical at times. The comic relief is one of the greatest parts of the show but when it becomes too much to the point where it takes you out of the moment, it ruins a lot of scenes and eventually the whole story line. If it were up to me, I would have stuck with the core characters you built over the first two season and introduced the new monster but with more of a introduction to what makes the Mind Flayer the Mind Flayer, if that makes sense. Rather than spending all this time in the “Russian Bunker” with these new non-believable, over the top Russian characters, we could have been learning more about what makes the monster tick and why Hawkins is the hot bed for this energy. They did a little of that over these three seasons, but it could have been much more interesting this time around.
Overall, I still genuinely enjoyed watching every episode even though I was taken out of the moment on numerous occasions. The visuals, camera work, score and theme were enough for me to recommend at least giving it a fair shot. Though, I would have done many things differently, I didn’t let that fully engulf my experience while watching. I give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars. Stranger Things 3 is now streaming on Netflix so make sure to check it out and let us know what you thought worked and didn’t work.
Thanks for reading and be nice to each other.