August 08, 2016

Stranger Things

I'm sure many of you have seen, or at least heard about the new Netflix original series 'Stranger Things'. It seems to be in the forefront of binge watching discussions all around social media, and, believe it or not, in person when people look up from their tablets or phones to actually have a conversation with you. I'm walkin here, I'm walkin here!

But I'm not having a go, I am, in fact, one of those people who you may have seen tweeting or posting on Facebook about this series, as not only did I love it, but I binge watched the hell out of it obsessively as if nothing else existed. And it didn't. Don't judge me, that's what binge watching is, a different life. Only the couch, the odd break for food or to go to the bathroom, and the show in question make up your routine. May not sound like much of a life, and you'd be right. Except you've watched the best show ever and it leaves you with all the feels possible that are good to feel in life.

Created by The Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things is a supernatural science fiction thriller, which is a throw back to everything that you loved about the 80's. It is set in that awesome of awesome periods, and is genre obsessed to great effect. Think Goonies, meets ET, with a little bit of Twilight Zone and Indiana Jones thrown in for good mix. It made you laugh, it made you scared, it made you pee your pants a little (oh and it made you cry).

Alright, so here's the plot for you taken straight from Wikipedia. Let's cut to the chase: "On November 6, 1983 in the suburban town of Hawkins, Indiana, 12-year-old Will Byers vanishes mysteriously. Will's mother, Joyce, becomes frantic and tries to find Will while Police Chief Jim Hopper begins investigating, and so do Will's friends: Dustin, Mike, and Lucas. The very next day, a psychokinetic girl knowing Will's whereabouts is found by the boys. As they uncover the truth, a sinister government agency tries to cover it up, while a more insidious force lurks just below the surface."

It's difficult for me to pinpoint my favourite part of the series, given how much I enjoyed watching it, but what definitely requires mentioning is the strength of the acting from the kids. Finn Wolfhard as Mike, Millie Bobbie Brown as El, and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin, in particular, give brave, funny, honest, and down right compelling performances. None of the them are over the age of 13. It's a group that listens and cares for each other, and we really see these authentic friendships and relationships on the screen.

The kids are ably supported by David Harbour (The Newsroom) as Chief Jim Hopper, a depressed Sheriff with a mysterious past, and Winona Ryder (no introduction needed, I presume) as Joyce Byers, mother of Will Byers who has vanished without a trace. These two really help to establish credibility with the narrative, and give credence to the kids taking on such challenging roles which, essentially, drive the story forward.

And forward the story does go. It is a tight 8 episode first season, and although each episode hovers around the 40 or so minute mark, nothing feels wasted. It is very economical. More importantly, though, is how full the world of Stranger Things feels, you really don't sense how long it is because you're absorbed.

It gives you this melting pot of 80's goodies, and it is this specific homage to a genre that makes the show that much more admirable. It's no coincidence either that Ryder was cast, or that someone like Matthew Modine was cast- both having started their careers in iconic 80's films such as Beetlejuice, Married to the Mob, and Full Metal Jacket. It's like the creators gave a little tip of the hat to a decade which spawned so much iconic work.

So...this series does not suck. Not at all. I enjoyed it enough to say that it will definitely get another watch very shortly. Yes, I loved it so much that I can't be bothered talking about the things I didn't like. Fair warning though, it does tend to have some thrilling and scary moments, which is why it has a PG-13 rating, but on the whole, most kids 12 and up will enjoy the series.

Rating: Supersac + Minisac

Rod @ Lovesac