Stranger Things 3 web series review: Geeks get it right again
If the latest season of Stranger Things is any indication, The Duffer Brothers have more than a few aces up their sleeve as they navigate the all-familiar world of '80s Hawkins, the Upside Down and everything in between.
Stranger Things Season 3
U; Sci-fi, horror
Director: The Duffer Brothers
Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Noah Schnapp
Even as they revelled in the smashing success of the first two seasons, a recurring doubt plagued fans of Stranger Things: How long can you weave a story about a bunch of small-town nerds saving the day? If the latest season is any indication, The Duffer Brothers have more than a few aces up their sleeve as they navigate the all-familiar world of '80s Hawkins, the Upside Down and everything in between.
It's 1985, and things are changing quite a bit. Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) and her friends have hit puberty and are looking at life with a new perspective. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven are all too happy in their new romance, much to the discomfort of her over-protective guardian Hopper (David Harbour). Hawkins, too, is changing with the brand new Starcourt Mall opening in the heart of the town. For the residents, the mall represents a new way of life and they are easily seduced by its many attractions. While El discovers the joys of female friendship as she goes on a shopping spree with Max (Sadie Sink), boys Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike and Will (Noah Schnapp) land up at the same venue to buy an apology gift after the lovebirds' first tiff. However, there is more to Starcourt than glitz and games. Bored of their summer job of scooping ice-cream at a parlour and always game for a new adventure, Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) set out to unearth the sinister Russian infiltrations with the aid of the good ol' Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas' sister Erica (Priah Ferguson). Meanwhile, Joyce (Winona Ryder) fears the worst when her magnets keep falling off the refrigerator door. Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Hawkins Times' general gofer, gets a shot at a breaking story and sets out to investigate with Jonathan (Charlie Heaton). The storyline might not offer much, but the busy narrative keeps us engrossed.
The ominous unease of the first two seasons gives way to a more youthful, sci-fi action-laden enterprise as Eleven and her friends find a way to save the world once again from enemies, both old and new. The retro flare, '80s-nostalgia horror aesthetics, old-fashioned costumes, et al continue to find prominence in this concerted attempt to bring big-screen pizzazz to the small screen. The attention to detail may not be as meticulous as in the first two outings, but that hardly takes away from its appeal. This season deserves special mention for its handling of women characters —El breaks free from her world of male-dominated characters (guardian Hopper and boyfriend Will) to forge a new friendship. Robin may start out as an '80s character trope but soon finds a unique voice.
With actors that are well-versed with their parts by now and wear them like a second skin, the performances continue to be gripping. The Duffer Brothers' series represents a nostalgia trip that harkens back to the best of sci-fi cinema and that is, essentially, why it keeps us riveted to its world.
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