I realized I haven’t posted in nearly a week. Sorry about that!! Make sure you are subscribed to my youtube channel where I do family movie nights (just posted review of Land Before Time) and weekly Disney Canon reviews (just did review of Fantasia 2000). Part of the reason I didn’t post anything for 6 days is there wasn’t any movies I was interested in seeing beyond Magnificent 7 and Storks which I already reviewed. But I also was kept away from the theater, busily finally catching up on the new hit Netflix miniseries Stranger Things! I thought I would share with you guys some of my thoughts. Spoiler free of course.
So Stranger Things is a creation of the Duffer Brothers and directed by Shawn Levy of Night at the Museum fame (big step up for him!). Pulling from the style and lore of 80s television and movies (particularly Stephen Spielberg and Stephen King) Stranger Things tells an absorbing story with compelling characters and fantastic atmosphere.
Stranger Things is about a woman named Joyce (Winona Ryder) who’s son Will ends up missing. Like so many movies it is set in a small town in Indiana (go Hoosiers!) and Will is friends with a group of boys that he likes to play Dungeon and Dragons with. These boys try to find Will and they find a mysterious girl named Eleven. There is also a sheriff looking into the disappearance and teenage girl named Nancy who’s friend Barb also is lost. Nancy has relationship drama with a boy named Steve and Will’s brother Jonathan, who is creepy but likable. The best thing about Stranger Things is the cast. I particularly loved the kid actors. They are completely adorable but also believable as real kids. They spoke like real kids and had conflict and supported each other in realistic ways. When Lucas gets mad at Mike over Eleven it feels completely believable.
Millie Bobby Brown is also sensational as Eleven. She is mysterious and weird but not in the ‘creepy child from horror movie’ kind of way. You feel deeply sorry for her and much like Mike quickly want to protect her. It always seems like she is a hair away from bursting into tears but then she throws vans into the air. That mixture of strength and vulnerability really works.
That is also true for the teenagers who aren’t just one note bad/good guys. While I liked their storylines less than the kids they still did a good job. I like that Jonathan was kind of creepy and weird and Nancy wasn’t just a damsel in distress. They could have given Barb a better storyline but you can’t have everything for every character I suppose. They were just different enough to keep you guessing.
Winona Ryder is fantastic as Joyce who is paranoid and crazy but is she…I don’t think she completely knows for most of the show, which makes her a compelling character. She’s a grieving frantic mother but also warm and sympathetic when she needs to be. It’s also refreshing that she isn’t given a love interest to cling on to in the show. She must be strong for herself and her family but she’s a mess at times as well. A great character!
David Harbour is also terrific as Sheriff Jim Hopper. He’s used to nothing big ever happening in the small town but with Will missing he faces one obstacle after another. Then Barb is gone and other strange things happen. He also has a tragedy in his past which makes him more than just the typical macho cop.
I think you can get an idea from this trailer the tone and atmosphere of the show. It is so well done. I was completely absorbed and watched it in 4 hour batches so set aside time if you do watch it. Also the music by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon is perfect.
The cool thing is I don’t think Stranger Things is just nostalgia porn. It pays heavy homages to past properties but it is its own story with compelling characters. On its own it is as good as anything it is paying homage to and in some cases better. I think you will all love it.
As far as content there are some scares and bloody moments but nothing too bad. If you can handle a movie like Gremlins or The Burbs you will be fine. There is a little bit of language and one scene of sensuality. I would rate it pg13.
Overall Grade- A+ if it was a movie it would be in my top 10 for sure, maybe top 5