Monday, July 18, 2016

Short Attention Span Review: Stranger Things (2016)

Short Attention Span Review: Stranger Things (2015)

Netflix's latest killer series borrows heavily from the cinematic landscape of the 80s (and the 80s themselves, as the series is set in 1983 and a powerful nostalgia vibe is one of its biggest selling points), but it remains fresh and viable nonetheless.  This is surely somewhat due to the wide variety of genres and titles that it pays homage to and partly due to a plethora of original flourishes, but either way the recycling on display in this riveting series is rather charming and never feels derivative.  There are great performances to spare and while some viewers have lamented the effects, I found them to be just as impressive.  The score is invigorating and the pacing is on point--this is an ideal program for binge-watching as the story progresses quickly and each episode ends with a cliffhanger that will have you itching to cue up the next chapter.  The less you know about the plot going in the better, but suffice it to say that a little midwest town becomes the setting for a wild yarn that includes a terrifying creature, shady government officials and their top secret lab, gateways to other dimensions, and even super powers.  The events unfold in the wake of a young boy's disappearance, and his tough but bewildered mother will join forces with a determined lawman with a tragic past to try and get to the bottom of the sinister goings-on.  Their biggest allies will be a band of teenage misfits who love Dungeons & Dragons and science, and their search for answers is packed with chills, thrills, and loving nods to the 80s.  The characters have so much depth and such tremendous arcs that I frequently felt like I was reading a book while watching this one, and there was just so much talent on display throughout.  It's hard to imagine any fan of things that go bump in the night failing to fall head over heels for the wholly engaging and highly entertaining Stranger Things

Final Grade: A+

Stranger Things is positively brimming with wonderful performances, but the strongest comes courtesy of Winona Ryder.  The long lost starlet is sheer perfection here as a crazed mother who will do anything to save her child from a diabolical supernatural menace.

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