Review: Stranger Things 3

Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things

Stranger Things 3 continues to be brilliant storytelling. It hits all the right emotional highs and lows. The visual effects are stunning. The 80s nostalgia and callbacks shine. The scifi creature is gross and disgusting.

At the end of season 2, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) thought she’d closed the gate on the creature. Spoiler: the creature was still around.

Millie Bobby Brown, and Finn Wolfhard in Stranger Things
Mike and Eleven

When the season began, everyone thought they were safe. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven spent their time working on their kissing skills. Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) was away at camp. Hopper (David Harbour) asked Joyce (Winona Ryder) out on a date. I was thinking, This season is a bore.

But wow, when the action hits the fan it is nonstop excitement.

As in past seasons, there are four separate storylines involving four sets of characters. They are all working on the same problem, but their efforts don’t coincide until the end when all the threads come together.

Winona Ryder and David Harbour in Stranger Things
The grown ups

The grown ups are after the Russians and the big electrical gizmo that has something to do with how strong the creature gets. Or maybe it contains the creature. Whatever. The science parts of science fiction have always been murky for me in Stranger Things.

The grown ups are mainly Jim Hopper and Joyce. Jim’s pal Murray (Brett Gelman) helps out, too.

Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton in Stranger Things
Jonathan and Nancy

There are two sets of older kids. Joyce’s son Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and girl reporter Nancy (Natalia Dyer) get into the action because of some gross goings on that change people into minions of the creature.

Maya Hawke, Joe Keery, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things
Dustin, Steve, and Robin

Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) work in the ice cream shop in the mall. The mall is actually a huge shopping center built to hide the actions of the Russians in the sub sub sub basements who keep the generator gizmo going. These two eventually end up teamed with Dustin and Erica (Priah Ferguson). They are after the secrets the Russians are bringing into the mall back entrance.

Priah Ferguson in Stranger Things
You can’t spell America without Erica.

Priah Ferguson is wonderful here – she’s a scene stealer and a gem. She made the most of her scenes in season 2, but she’s a major player in season 3. I love her and want her to have all the ice cream in the world – for free.

Maya Hawke as Robin is another bright spot in season 3. After going through all kinds of trauma together investigating Russians, then escaping from said Russians, Steve admits to Robin that he has a crush on her. It’s a beautiful scene acted out while leaning on toilets huddled on a colorful public bathroom floor. The twist is that Robin admits to Steve that she has a crush on a girl named Tammy.

Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, and Noah Schnapp in Stranger Things
Will, Mike, Eleven, Max and Caleb

The youngest set of characters are the D&D playing foursome Dustin, Mike, Erica’s big brother Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Joyce’s son Will (Noah Schnapp). Eleven is part of this group, as is Max (Sadie Sink). Dustin is stuck deep under the mall, while the rest of this bunch deal directly with the creature. The big, scary creature.

Eleven and Max become best friends this season, a new experience for Eleven. Well, to be accurate, almost every normal experience is a new experience for Eleven.

Max’s big brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) is also important in the story, but he isn’t part of the group fighting against the creature or the Russians.

Matt and Ross Duffer are the creators, writers, and frequent directors of Stranger Things 3. Slowly, slowly, they are adding more female characters and this season’s number of women directed episodes is 2/8. Uta Briesewitz directed two episodes of season 3.

This show must have an enormous budget, because the sets and special and visual effects are outstanding.

If you watched previous seasons of Stranger Things, I’m sure you’ll be interested in this one. It as good or better than earlier seasons. By the way, don’t turn off episode 8 when the credits start to roll. Stick around for some important scenes.

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Stranger Things 3 poster

Watch the Trailer for Stranger Things 3

Did you watch Stranger Things 3 yet? What did you think of it?

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8 thoughts on “Review: Stranger Things 3”

  1. The machine is widening “the gate”, that’s why the creatures get stronger when it’s activated.

    I feel like the story, particularly the final battle, would have been more effective and emotionally resonant if they had chosen a character who wasn’t universally despicable already. Having someone who was once good turn villain would have played into the tragedy aspect and the horror aspect far more effectively. The way the Duffers chose to do makes it really difficult to emotionally connect with that particular subplot because you really don’t care what happens to him.

    1. I agree. It was as if they sat down and said, “Who can we kill off without making the fans too angry?” and he was the answer. Then they stuck that coda on at the end after the credits to give everyone hope for Hopper, who is a loved character. I was just grateful they didn’t kill off the budding lesbian or Eleven’s first actual best friend, AKA the female characters.

      1. Agreed, killing either female character would have been terrible. I think they are smart enough to know that killing off a child would not have gone over well at all, nor would killing the one queer character, especially in this cultural climate.

        To be fair, I can’t think off the top of my head who would have worked.

        Honestly, that coda felt like a cop out to me and only served to cheapen the character’s sacrifice.

        1. It does cheapen the sacrifice, doesn’t it? He was standing there looking at Joyce with an expression on his face that said, “Do it. Sacrifice me.” It made him heroic. That’s assuming “The American” is Hopper. I saw one person who thought it was Matthew Modine’s character.

          Plenty of innocent townspeople died. Not sure why they wanted to add in a major character.

          1. Innocent people died, but no one the audience had any emotional connection with. The idea behind sacrificing a major character is to make the struggle meaningful. If they managed to overcome the big bad with no significant losses, it makes the whole fight seem like it was never that much of a risk. The los of a major character signifies to the audience just how high the stakes are.

            And Modine’s character was eaten on screen, there’s no realistic way they could work around that.

            I hope it isn’t Hopper, as that would be some really sloppy writing.

  2. I’m not reading this until u see it. Just watched seasons 1 and 2 again to remember it!! I loved seeing it again tho. ❤️

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