By Dalton Patterson
When comparing a Netflix series to a film, two trade-offs need to be taken into account. These trade offs being time over quality and depth versus superficial gratification. A film is typically restricted to to around two and a half hour maximum. While this limits the story and the audience’s attachment to a character, it does provide a higher budget for effects and an overall higher quality production. A series on the other hand is capable of telling a complex and lasting story as well as provide deep attachment opportunities for characters. Sometimes entire episodes bare focused around a single character. However it’s not often that TV series is capable using the same level of effects or production quality.
Stranger Things is an exception to this rule. I highly recommend this series to anyone who has yet to see it. Throughout the story, an amazing amount of growth can be observed as first season antagonists save the day in season two. The best part is how organic it flows. The acting in this show really sells it as the characters provide a great medium for portraying the tone of a scene through sheer volume and expression. The way that characters are able to wear these facades throughout the story is an ever impressive feat as the character evolution doesn’t feel forced. For every change in character that happens, you understand because you’ve witnessed the events that caused it.
Stranger Things is the story of a group of kids discovering a girl with psychic abilities as disappearances begin to happen all over the small Indiana town of Hawkins. The facts refuse to add up as the government seems to be trying to cover up some far grander secret. The show quickly turns from a campy homegrown feeling of the Goonies or E.T. to a suspense filled adventure full of consequences and danger. The gang discovers that the military is hiding a portal to another world, a dark and twisted version of ours filled with all kinds of monsters and horrors.
The Duffer Brothers, the producers, really seemed to be aiming for an older style of supernatural/Scifi film set in the 80’s era in the small american town of Hawkins. You can really tell how much effort went into recreating the 80’s throughout the series as entire teams were hired just for the purpose of nailing the looks of that era. For the most part this series shows how effective a well produced series can be even when compared to blockbuster triple A films.
This leads to the most important part, what I felt was done wrong. The usual situation for this show’s episodes is a calm that is slowly degraded away as more and more information is revealed. There are however several episodes that seemingly break this trend and pull away from the story entirely as character are taken to the side for seemingly pointless tangent stories. In several instances we see character entirely removed from the plot and placed in completely different scenarios and settings. It’s this separation from the story that does more to break the tension of the story rather than add to it. The second thing may simply be part of the style that the creators were going for but the characters feel very cliche at times. The bully has a dad who bullies him, the pretty girl is insecure, the nerdy kid makes poor decisions to impress a girl. While it’s not terrible, it does make the story predictable at times. In terms of the creatures, I think it’s disappointing that there wasn’t much variety in what was seen especially when the premise allows for so much potential in terms of what could have been added.
In conclusion, I think that the show, while very impressive, still tries to get away with some stretched filler at times. While it can’t be blamed for some of it’s cliches, they can be pointed out. I would recommend this show to fans of all genres as it’s acting, story and effects are just the right hook to draw you in this Halloween.