Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Stranger Things: Season 1 Review
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I didn’t watch Stranger Things when it first came out. In fact, I only watched it a few weeks ago, after months of people praising the series and raving about how good it was. This meant that by the time that I actually got to watch the show there was so much expectation that it needed to deliver on.
Stranger Things follows the story of several members of the town of Hawkins following the disappearance of a young boy called Will. When investigations into his disappearance reveal a government conspiracy, a child with psychic abilities, and monsters from another world, the story quickly embraces the horror and sci-fi stylings of the decade that featured in so many beloved 80’s films.
From the look of the locations and costumes, to the way scenes are shot and the score reminiscent of John Carpenter, the series very much feels like a product of the decade it’s set in (though obviously with much more impressive visual effects).
Whilst many of the people I knew who were heaping praise upon the series were doing so for being ‘scary’ or for being ‘so 80’s’, I found that it was the emotional story at the centre of the show and the characters that made Stranger Things enjoyable to watch. The story was good, and unfolded at a relatively fine pace, but the first few episodes were definitely the weakest, and if it wasn’t for the characters themselves I may not have stuck around for the rest of the show.
The main adult cast of Winona Ryder and David Harbour are brilliant, with Ryder playing a very real and at times heartbreaking depiction of a mother being torn apart after the loss of her son. As the season progresses it’s nice to see how her initially slightly antagonistic relationship with Harbour’s police chief Hopper changes to one where they feel like a great team. Hopper may be one of the most interesting characters on the show; one who goes from being unlikable, to one that you feel a deep sadness for, before ending as someone that you’re desperate to know more about.
The stand-outs amongst the cast have to be the children, however, who managed to wow on more than one occasion. Whilst not being in the show a great deal, Noah Schnapp played Will with a sense of innocence and sweetness in the few scenes that he did have. Caleb McLaughlin was great as the sceptic of the group, whilst Gaten Matarazzo was laugh out loud funny as the ever enthusiastic Dustin.
Despite the whole cast being great, Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown were amazing as Mike and Eleven respectively. A great deal of the series very much centred on the relationship between the two of them, and seeing the relationship that developed between them was incredibly heartwarming, despite being heartbreaking by the end of the final episode.
Even though Eleven had hardly any dialogue, she was played to perfection by Millie Bobby Brown, who conveyed more emotion and character development with body language and her eyes than actors many years her senior.
One of the other things that benefitted Stranger Things was the shorter season length. Whilst other shows rely on 10, 13, or even 22 episode seasons Stranger things had the sense to know that it didn’t need to stretch out its story. It told its story and was happy to do so within a shorter time. Not only did this mean that the story moved at a fairly brisk pace, but it didn’t overstay its welcome.
Stranger Things is a competent and well made series with great performances and an engaging story that continues to have its fan base grow as more people recommend the series to others. I am intrigued, however, to see how the series will progress into a second season. Will the story and characters continue to grow in a natural and interesting way, or will it overstay its welcome?
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