Showing posts with label stranger things. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stranger things. Show all posts

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Watch On Netflix: Stranger Things 3 (2019)

There’s just no avoiding Stranger Things. When a new season releases on Netflix, you run towards the Upside Down arms open – Mindflaying domination over Hawkins, Indiana be damned.

The third season of the popular series kicked off with another edition of Nancy Drew adventures for our heroic misfits: Steve, Robin, Erica, and Dustin investigate a mysterious code at the new Starcourt Mall. On the other side of town, Eleven with Mike, Lucas, and Will try to discover why the Upside Down is having a sadistic affect on Max's brother Billy. Meanwhile Nancy and Jonathan struggle with their new responsibilities after high school, as Joyce and Hopper discover that the Russians are coming (or have never truly left).

If that seems like a lot to read, it might not come as a surprise that it’s also a lot to digest while watching the newest episodes. As the third chapter in the Stranger Things saga, the series finds a balance in righting and recycling some of its previous flaws.

As a precaution, if you haven't seen Stranger Things 3, read at your own risk. This post contains spoilers!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Trailer Talk: Stranger Things, Toy Story 4, Lucy In The Sky and More

Ready? Get set! Mark your calendars! Go! sums up how I'm feeling over the past week as several trailers dropped for movies coming up throughout 2019. Instead of doing a usual Trailer Reactions post to all of them (Avengers: Endgame will get its own post soon), I thought about just talking about the movies and tv series that are definitely getting some hype this summer.

What do you guys think about these movies? Are there any other trailers I should check out? Let me know if you're excited or disappointed in the comments below!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Let's Go To There: Halloween Horror Nights 2018

Halloween Horror Nights 2018 Universal Orlando
Every autumn Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood transforms its theme parks under the cover of darkness into scare zones and themed houses. This year, Stranger Things, Poltergeist, Halloween 4, and The Purge were just some of the iconic movies and shows to arrive at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort.

To be honest, I'm not an avid horror fan, but I like the occasional scare. When my sister and I saw the line-up of houses for this year's HHN, we cast our fears aside to celebrate Halloween a little differently this year. Because it caters to all kinds of fans (mostly 18+) who love to get more than a little freaked out, the event turned out to be perfect for me and my sister to attend.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Stranger Things 2 (2017) Channels an Awkward Phase

Photo Credit: Netflix
In 2016, Stranger Things became easily one of the most binge-worthy, obsession-inducing shows in recent history. Building characters into tropes only to shatter them in a world mixing Stephen King mystery and Steven Spielberg adventure made every episode THE BEST THING EVER. The fanbase's love of the cast and jaw-dropping cliffhangers understandably set up its future with the impossible task to follow in its predecessor's huge footsteps. Stranger Things 2 has critics and fans talking again, but this time, it's not exactly for the best reasons.

Returning to Hawkins, Indiana, one year after a young boy Will Byers is found safe and sound following a terrifying disappearance, supernatural elements continue to burst at the seams. The Byers family and a young girl with telepathic powers, Eleven, have managed to rescue the boy out of the Upside Down, but the same can't be same about him or their small town.

While season one was so meta to the eighties, filled to the brink with easter eggs and homages, the story managed to create its own iconic imagery. Everything from the opening song to moments of Eleven and her love of Eggos and Joyce communicating through Christmas lights - to name a few- gobbled the world whole with cosplaying, memes, and artistic tributes. Balancing three different storylines and sets of characters, the full plot centered on finding out more about the Upside Down and Eleven's mysterious abilities plays out like massive quest to slay the beast and be rescued by the princess. We went along with everyone's moves, but never knew exactly what was lurking around the corner.

Now, in season two, the show's creators relaxes on subtle (or obvious) homages so much, it makes one wonder if they ran out of steam, inspiration or both. Underneath the misshapen writing, elements that made the show so successful in the first place like the loveable characters and retro worldbuilding still exists, but unfortunately, lets that unique blend of science-fiction, horror, and nostalgia slip into the void.

Netflix's self-generated hype using horror-inspired posters and the trailer featuring Michael Jackson's iconic Thriller feels misleading. The story continues to further beloved, established relationships along, but doesn't create many exciting inferences to its inspired era nor memorable moments of its own. As characters are still broken up into multiple storylines about Will, Eleven, JUSTICE FOR BARB, and the Upside Down, they all feel separate, never completely melding with each other. Downplaying an aim to recreate the first season's King/Spielberg dynamic, this return to Hawkins is much more like a visit to simple nowhere town (that could even be set in our time period) where some weird stuff's going on.

While the story is more or less a repeat of season one with more visible monsters instead of one mostly lurking in the shadows, old and new characters slightly shift ahead but still remain a little of the same. Allowing the characters to evolve a la Harry Potter at least one year at a time, the boxes they're put into gives them plenty of room to grow for future seasons.

On the upside, Hopper becomes Eleven's surrogate father, and hey, parenting a telepathic bad-ass isn't easy; Joyce finds a warm relationship with Bob ("newcomer" Sean Astin), who may be the father figure Will and Jonathan deserve. On the downside: Nancy's gungho on serving justice to Barbra through a conspiratorial journalist but is still stuck in a love triangle, so yeah Jonathan's still around; Max, a new student at school takes up the mantle as the next girl to be reluctantly welcomed into the boy's club (atypically replacing Eleven), while her abusive brother Billy won't go away for the life of us. Adding newer characters to the mix, one would hope that they are interesting and worthy of precious screentime, but mostly come across as just existing, making us wish established characters had more time to develop.

What primarily does work for Stranger Things 2 are a few characters getting more fleshed out, becoming emotional anchors to the widening threat of the Upside Down. Will, who was mostly a gooey icicle in season one, experiences heartbreaking bouts of PTSD, making his connection to the beyond far more terrifying than we imagined. Eleven, who was previously an interesting character but Carrie on crack, becomes more humanized through her backstory. And finally, Steve sheds his possessive hormonal boyfriend front to be a big brother for the boys. The entire cast's talent still offers that absolute magic with their chemistry, transforming the 'typical mystery' vibes to feel as fresh as it used to.

With the monumental success of Stranger Things's first season, and the warm reception to its return, any follow-up would have difficult stepping out of its own extraordinary shadow. Season two's episode-to-episode arc is messy, but by the end, the story ties up neatly enough to be satisfying. Transitioning out of the global hit it was, its cast offers fine performances (awards for Noah Schnapp please) full of comedy, love, and heartache. Stranger Things 2 might've not been the exciting sequel it could've been, but the final results aren't the worst thing in the world. We have reality to hold up that mantelpiece, and Hawkins is still a welcome escape - even if it's just channeling an awkward phase right now.

Rating: ★★☆
Have you watched Stranger Things 2?
What did you think?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Stranger Things Artwork

Stranger Things Artwork
Happy October! It's so exciting that Halloween is just around the corner. What better way to kick off this spooktacular month than with artwork from the hit series Stranger Things. Inspired by the nostalgic eighties and eclectic characters of Hawkins, Indiana, this collection of artwork hails from every corner of the web, especially the upside-down. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Season Review: Stranger Things

Netflix Stranger Things season review
Plucking similar children from The Goonies and setting them into a conspiracy within The X-Files and E.T., Netflix's nostalgic series Stranger Things is out of this world.

When twelve-year-old Will Byer (Noah Schnapps) mysteriously vanishes, his pals try to find him by putting their D&D knowledge, walkie talkies, and bicycles to the test. As Will's mother (Winona Ryder) and the chief of police Jim Hopper (David Harbour) start their own investigation, a mysterious girl Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) with supernatural powers may hold the answers about weird disturbances occurring in their small town.

While the show remarkably weaves together laughs and scares into the backdrop of an eighties sci-fi quest, the cast steals the show. To start with the kids as Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) who are Will's closest friends are refreshingly natural. It's been a while since I felt performances by child actors were animated as well as complex. The boys are so buoyant and full of personality. With Will out of the show 90% of the time, the actor/characters' bond restore the purest connection friends share: the loyalty, hope and trust it takes to be apart of a pack.

Distinguishing one role over another is a difficult task. Every actor is an essential part of the show, but when Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven enters the scene, hold onto your eggos! She is someone of a very few words and whose actions speak much louder. Her character's abilities make her powerful and mystifying, and Brown brings a true humanity as a secret weapon, eliciting a fierce and tender performance.

In a true feat of meta-casting, Winona Ryder is on hand as Will's mother Joyce. Though the notable actress didn't go into an official retirement, the eighties icon 'comes back' with a striking perseverance. As a hardworking outsider of their small town, Joyce becomes increasingly unraveled and determined to find her son. Managing the difficult task of being aware how family and strangers see her desperation, Ryder acts a fine line between fragility and unshakable determination. Some critics have written her performance as hysterical, but she undoubtedly is another bad-ass mama bear whose protective nature is as fierce as it is warm and endearing. Seeing Ryder again in any capacity is pure joy, and she doesn't disappoint here.

I would say the series is a character-led adventure with enough creepy atmospheric elements to keep their quest interesting as well as entertaining. Series creators The Duffer brothers found a magical recipe to create the hit of the summer: write characters inspired by Steven Spielberg's young-adult catalog who have big hearts and a bigger sense of wonder, and cast them in a suspenseful Stephen King-esque world. Their binge-worthy experiment oozes with scares, delights with nostalgia and provokes epic feels.

Perhaps their most impressive achievement is how the series lives as a tribute to the eighties pop culture the brothers loved growing up. Although the Duffers make a plethora of references of movies from yesteryear, their influences aren't flat and flashy. The attention to detail towards the cast, costume, set, music and cinematography feel like something straight out of the eighties instead of a one-dimensional homage. For some, the creators might've gone overboard. For someone like me who is mildly aware of iconic science-fiction and horror movies, the show balances old and new to avoid being boxed in by certain film elements it mirrors.

Stranger Things is a welcoming change from a pretty slumber summer within television, and even newly released movies. The series' eight episodes play out almost exactly as one epic vintage blockbuster and even eight individual ones. If you haven't watched it yet - curl up under some blankets. Be prepared to laugh, get scared, and believe the hype. Trust me. Friends don't lie.
Rating: ★★★
Have you watched Stranger Things? What are your thoughts?