I wrote this review when the series came out, but was unable to post it until I had submitted it for my magazine assignment. Below is the full review plus how it looked in the magazine, and if you want to sneak a peak at my full magazine project, click here.
Stranger Things 2 Review
The Goonies, E.T, Farrah Fawcett hair and Cyndi Lauper are all fond callbacks to a time long since past, but the 15th of July 2016 marked the release of a show that perfectly personifies eighties nostalgia. For over a year, fans awaited the eagerly awaited the next instalment of the modern classic. On the 27th of October 2017 Netflix finally gave the world what we had been begging for, and just in time for Halloween.
Stranger Things 2 kicks things off a year after the first series, with new characters, more witty one-liners, more eighties references, and a lot more horror. It is a deeply satisfying sequel to the first installment in a world where terrible sequels and remakes are churned out of Hollywood daily, and nostalgia has become a simple cash-grab with films like Jumangi: Welcome to the Jungle, and last years Ghostbusters remake. With brilliant performances from the kids and the addition of Sean Astin’s Bob, an obvious nod to The Goonies, the new series was a Halloween hit, sure to be binged and rebinged until we get more. If you’re yet to watch the episodes be warned; there are spoilers ahead!
The series picks up with all our favourites from last time, with new appearances alongside Bob, like the mysterious Kali (Linnea Berthelsen,) and Max (Sadie Sink,) the boisterous new girl at school and a love interest for Dustin and Lucas to fight over.
As expected, there were strong performances all around from the crew of ridiculously talented children, and the adults around them. But a standout performance this series is Will (Noah Schnapp,) who is tortured by his experience in the upside-down, and the connection he still holds to the monster inside it.
It was him that amped up the horror element of this series, watching him get taken over by the demagorgon in Episode Three: The Polly-wog. As Will was missing in the upside-down in series one, he did not get much screen time, but series two shows off Schnapp’s full acting potential in an absolutely stunning performance, leaving audiences and the other characters alike ready to love and protect Will, whatever it takes.
Hopper (David Habour) and Eleven (Millie Bobby-Brown) shine in their unconventional father and daughter dynamic, something we didn’t know we all needed. Their relationship is tumultuous throughout the episodes as he takes care of her, but ends with him becoming her legal parent in a beautifully sweet conclusion.
Eleven, or Jane, as we now know her to be called, has a huge arc in this series, as we learn more about her true identity. However this leads to one of the let downs of the show: episode seven- The Lost Sister. This episode follows Eleven as she meets others like her, learning the full extent of her story.
While this meant the audience learned more about her, the episode feels like a detour in the series, with a vast change in pace and tone. As a spin off series, by all means would the audience be interested in learning more about Eleven’s story. But this episode did not fit with the rest, and was a let-down of series 2.
The Johnathan-Nancy-Steve love triangle is again a focal point of the show in this installment, with Steve being fleshed out even more as a good guy character, and babysitter to the kids, leading him to be the source of many memes. While we end the series loving Steve even more, Nancy’s behavior leaves a bad taste in the mouth. But her journey to get justice for Barb is a satisfying end to the character’s story, after her death in series one.
Stranger Things 2 was always going to be binged by millions regardless of whether or not it lived up to the first installment, but the show doesn’t disappoint, matching up to the stunning visuals, perfect mixture of scary and funny moments, and sentimental eighties vibes that made series one so loved.