★★★★★ – “A multi-genre masterpiece by The Duffer Brothers.”
Stranger Things is written & directed by The Duffer Brothers and stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Noah Schnapp and Cara Buono.
When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.
Where to begin? Stranger Things is one of the most enjoyable pieces of television that I’ve experienced in years. With a satisfying eight episodes in its first season, The Duffer Brothers have delivered a multi-genre masterpiece that has taken the world by storm.
The writing throughout is smart and compelling, lending every actor/actress a real chance to delve into their respective characters and they all do so with impeccable skill. It’s extremely difficult to pick out the highlighting performances when every single one of them were outstanding. But, I must mention the following names in appreciation of their talent. Millie Bobby Brown is seriously convincing in her portrayal of the mysterious Eleven (or ‘Elle’), and although only twelve years old, she gives one of the most incredibly diverse and grown-up performances I’ve ever seen. Winona Ryder plays a distraught Joyce, mother of Will, who goes through many stages of emotional despair, breaking down and falling apart as she searches for her son, in an impressive and relatable act. Charlie Heaton follows Ryder in this path but takes a slightly different direction as he becomes one of the many powerful leads in the series, within a couple episodes. Heaton has undeniable chemistry with co-star Natalia Dyer (playing Nancy) and they both share some interesting moments together, most notably, in the final three episodes. David Harbour plays police chief, Jim Hopper, and progressively propels into his character as he digs deeper into the strange ‘missing boy’ case. Last but certainly not least, the Kids (Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo & Caleb McLaughlin) are enthralling, fascinating and hugely entertaining as they search for their friend, Will (Noah Schnapp), and ultimately take the screen with surprisingly genuine, adult performances. Highlighting Matarazzo (Dustin) and Wolfhard (Mike) as my consistent favourites during my experience with the show.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein are in control of the score, taking huge inspiration from the 1980s, using synthesisers to construct an incredible ensemble soundtrack that in some way feels like its own character. Along with the show taking critical acclaim, the soundtrack manages to find an audience, be it fans of the show, composers, directors, producers, it seems everyone wants this sound in their work. Dixon & Stein have crafted and presented a stunning score, from the opening theme to the closing credits.
Something the show creators, set decorators, designers and costume departments have worked hard on is featuring many references paying homage to classic 70s/80s movies, and while it’s packed with them, the writers strive in staying original in the storytelling. The plot is seemingly simple, yet once you begin watching you notice how complex it really is. Every episode is filled with mystery and tension. Even when you think the story is heading somewhere predictable, it alters drastically and heads off in another direction. I strongly believe that this is greatly due to its short run of eight episodes. There’s no ‘filler’ episode in this show. It’s an entirely fast-paced, energetic and powerful running length which will have you binge watching until you’ve seen it all. Lucky for us, a second season has been confirmed by Netflix, with a further nine episodes coming in 2017.
Verdict; There’s simply nothing quite like Stranger Things. It’s enthralling, engaging, emotional, heartfelt, funny, smart, complex and certainly entertains the viewer. Did I mention it also has a killer soundtrack? You’re right, I did.
– Stranger Things is now streaming on Netflix.
Stranger Things: Season One – ★★★★★ (10/10)