Stranger Things 2
Review by James Everett
I went back in time. I was in the 80’s. You can go there too if you want, and you can thank the Emmy nominated Matt and Ross Duffer for it. You see, a little over a year ago the world was filled with awe when a show they wrote and directed was released on Netflix. Its classic 80’s horror vibes along with its outstandingly eerie score composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the instrumental electronic group S U R V I V E. They instantly gave us the feeling we were watching something special; we were, and we were hooked. That show was Stranger Things.
When I first heard that they were indeed making a second season, I was skeptical. Should this amazing story have been more of a one shot? Could the writers ever live up to what they did in season one? They can’t, right? Well the answers are: it shouldn’t have been, they could, they did, and I couldn’t be happier to have been proven oh so wrong. I can’t give all the credit to the writers though, for without an amazing cast giving life to the words on a script, even the best written screenplays will be complete dog shit. Luckily for us they have an almost perfect cast; especially with their child stars, that really are the backbone of the show. The performances of these talented little bastards make Stranger Things synonymous with titles like E.T., Stand by Me, and The Goonies.
Noah Schnapp (Will), who we didn’t get to see much of in first season due to him being stuck in the upside-down, kills it. Schnapp has to deal with complex themes from the aftermath of what happened to Will in the upside down, which he pulls off perfectly with his gripping and at sometimes even creepy performance. Then there’s Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), who yet again is on a different level when it comes to portraying the powerful, yet scared and confused young girl. Her chemistry acting opposite of David Harbour (Hopper) really is engrossing, and we get to see just how powerful she really is when she goes off on an adventure by herself. My personal favorite character ark though is from Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin). I don’t want to give anything away but let’s just say he makes a mistake after falling for the new girl Max (Sadie Sink), and watching his adventure to fix that mistake kept me binging throughout the night. When it comes too Finn Wolfhard (Mike), I thought his performance was great as usual, and he had a particular scene where he’s really upset with Hopper where you could really fell how betrayed he felt, but I wish they would have gave him more to do this season than being Wills sidekick, because at end of the season it was like they really didn’t know what to do with the character without Eleven being by his side.
Then we have the older cast members. Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton were back as (Nancy and Jonathan) and the characters spend most of the season on Nancy’s mission to get justice for her dead friend Barb. The way they go about getting that justice was interesting to watch, and helped set up some storylines for season three. Winona Ryder (Joyce) played the manic worried mom perfectly, and we even got to see her play the hero to David Harbours damsel in distress, with some help from a new character Bob of course. Which brings us to Sean Astin, I feel like he deserves a special shout out. Watching him play the dorky boyfriend Bob Newby brought a lot of funny scenes to the show which usually falls on the shoulders of the younger cast, along with a satisfying although somewhat predictable ark, that can’t be blamed on Astins performance.
As for the “almost” in “they have almost perfect cast,” there was only one character who really just sucked. His name is Billy, and he just felt out of place. I could see what they were going for with the whole your classic 80’s teen villain thing, and I’m not saying that the actor who played him (Dacre Montgomery) is a bad actor. I think he played the role that was given to him very well. I just felt his character was utterly useless and pretty much just an annoying douche the entire time. To be fair once they gave his character some development I didn’t mind him at all, but we don’t get that scene until towards the end of the season and he only has a few more scenes after that.
I had one issue with the last couple of episodes, like I said with Sean Astins ark, they were somewhat predictable, but it wasn’t even in a way that took the enjoyment out of the story, because just like last season it was a fucking blast to watch. All the different story arcs tied together seamlessly, I felt like I was there, like I was part of the team trying to stop evil from escaping the upside-down. Stranger Things lets you do that, it lets you escape from your regular and I’m sure sometimes monotonous everyday lives, to a place filled with new and interesting things and awesome yet grounded characters that you could imagine yourself sitting down and having a drink with. And isn’t that what an epic story is supposed to do? Let you escape?
All in all, I’m not going to give Stranger Things 2 a rating because at the end of day I’m not a critic, nor do I want to be one, nor do I think people should even listen to critics. You should use any review as a starting point to form your own opinions. I’m just a regular guy who loves a good story. In my opinion, this is a good fucking story. So, give it a watch, you’ll be glad you did. Until next time, peace out cinephiles.