Every so often there’s a buzz centered around a TV series or a movie and recently that buzz has been for Stranger Things, a Netflix original series. I have watched the first few episodes on the recommendation of @Cleon81 and many others, so here’s Cleons thoughts on the series…….
If you’re in the mid 30’s to 40’s then you should love how The Duffer Brothers Netflix Series Stranger Things transcends you back to your childhood. The series pays tribute to many of the mid 70’s and 80’s films such as E.T, Monster Squad, Poltergeist, Goonies and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind amongst many more. It’s quite clear very early on who influenced the Duffer Brothers. While the series pays homage to many different films I felt it was done right and it wasn’t cheesy at all. The Steven Spielberg meets Stephen King elements worked great at times and didn’t feel too overpowering.
The story is set in 1983 in a small sleepy town called Hawkins in Indiana. The main plot line revolves around a group of friends who go searching for their friend Will who goes missing pretty early on in the series after playing Dungeons and Dragons. Then as the show goes on the group of kids and other residents from Hawkins have an encounter with the supernatural. It’s your classic supernatural, horror plot that you expect from such films and series. However that’s not a bad thing at all and less than ten minutes into the series and I was hooked. I liked everything about it from the off, how could I not like the throwback to my childhood?!
Stranger Things is quite dark and moody throughout the series but one person does bring a little light to the show and that is Gaten Matarazzo who plays Dustin.
Everytime I saw him, it felt like I could be watching Chunk from Goonies. He brings a giant smile to the show and is the glue that holds the band of friends together during harder times with his voice of reason. The youthful cast are great as a whole though and the mix of actors seem to work well on screen.
Millie Bobby Brown (above) plays the character Eleven who manages to play a very prominent role throughout the series without ever speaking much. She plays a lonely, troubled youngster who just so happens to be able to channel the supernatural and do extraordinary things with her mind. You can’t help but feel sorry for her at times as she is pushed and pushed constantly. Her role is full of mystique and gets you asking many questions about where she has come from as you try to understand more about her.
However it’s one of the older cast who really stole the show for me.
Winona Ryder is simply brilliant playing the role of Joyce Byers (Will’s mother) as she really brings the character alive with her emotions. She is a harried, angry, worried mother who in almost every scene is really fighting all the different kinds of emotions that someone would go through. The image above for me is one of the images that really stayed with me throughout the show and I think it would for most people who saw the show. I don’t want to give spoilers away as it would be quite a big one, but the build up to the image above where she goes to her work and buys tons of Christmas Lights is brilliantly played out as Winona Ryder enjoys some of her best work for many years. I can’t remember a memorable performance from her for quite some time now, but she definitely delivers here.
As far as Villains in the show goes, we have two, one of who I won’t mention so I don’t give the plot away. The we also have Matthew Modine who plays the role of Dr. Martin Brenner. His role is limited somewhat but he does look the part. This is one of the areas of the show were I think they could have done better. You never truly understand Dr. Brenner’s story, you see him in flashbacks and he is portrayed as one of the bad guys who is pushing Eleven to the limit time and time again. Yet at times he shows a caring, nurturing side. For those of you who have ever watched Heroes, he is the Noah Bennett type of character who you just can’t quite work out if he’s good or bad. The lack of actual depth to his story doesn’t really help the situation either due to there being no real substance behind such a major character, yet he hardly appears in the show.
Stranger Things is simple yet brilliant at the same time while not really offering anything new. It’s everything you’d expect of the genre and it delivers well, that’s why it’s so good and gets you addicted to wanting to see more. The series is only eight episodes long and when it ended I was gutted because I was left wanting more. While the series delivered in terms of making me want to watch another episode, I felt it left many unanswered questions and more importantly WHY? That is likely to be a question that many of you are left asking once you’ve watched the series.
Throughout the series you seem to be left asking questions rather than feeling satisfied with the overall explanation of things. It leaves you hanging it places and sets up a second season. If they did do a second series though they should follow the Fargo route and do it set elsewhere outside of Hawkins Indiana and play the series out that way and possibly expand on the origins of some of the shows cast like Eleven, Dr. Brenner and so on.
But I’m not sure it would be as good if there was a second series. For me this should be a one off series and leave it at that. I can’t see how following on from what happens in series one will take the show forward, it’ll just feel like going back over the same ground. Well that’s how I feel.
Despite the bad points and a real lack of substance to the core points of the series at times I’d still give the show a massive…..
You can find Cleon on Twitter @Cleon81