Does anybody want a Three Musketeers candy bar? For some reason I want a Three Musketeers candy bar…
I no longer feel comfortable placing trust in anything Netflix does. This is mainly because of the sharp decrease in quality from the Marvel Defenders series from the amazing start with Daredevil season 1, all the way to the mostly unwatchable Iron Fist and the very milquetoast-y Defenders season 1.
So even though I loved Stranger Things season 1, I kinda held my breath about this new season. Now that I’ve finished watching it, I can say that Stranger Things 2 would have been better than the first one… if The Duffer Brothers stopped doing a couple of stupid things and if Eleven’s story wasn’t so irritating.
I digress… I will get to the stuff that angered me in a minute.
First, I want to say that the best thing about this show is the child characters. I honestly don’t know how they were able to find such a talented array of child actors, but boy oh boy, do they ever deliver a successful range of emotions. This goes especially for Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, but now that Will has been rescued during season 1, he actually gets a lot of screen time, and he’s pretty fantastic as well.
Everyone else, Steve and Nancy, Jonathan, Joyce, Hopper, and pretty much everybody does great. The number of additional characters was more than I thought was going to be added, but thankfully, they are all not only well performed, but the show somehow never feels overcrowded with characters.
The season does a rather fantastic job at juggling all of these people, giving them new dynamics, and even some new friendships/relationships that get added. It was all fun and interesting to watch.
Now of course, I didn’t mention Eleven… and even though Millie Bobby Brown is still great in that role, season two doesn’t really know what to do with her for well over half the season. Without getting into spoilers, basically with every story line, it feels like characters are getting developed and the story is progressing, but whenever it was Eleven’s turn, the story stopped progressing and it’s all about developing her character. It was no surprise that most boring parts of the season focused on her. However, she finally gets off the bench somewhere within the second half, and then I have no problems with her afterwards.
An element that I love about Stranger Things is the elements that make it unique. The music in the film fits effortlessly in every scene whether it is just the music specifically for the show or the hit songs from that time era.
Another great thing about the show is the scene transitions between something bad or scary happening juxtaposed by the next scene of waffles popping from a toaster, or something everyday or mundane. It really adds to the creepy feeling this show has as well as really helps the show stand out.
Alright, about the bad stuff:
So I know the The Duffer Brothers (the directors) will probably never read this review, but if they do:
Dudes, for the love of God, holy crap, stop with your stupid flashbacks. As I mentioned in my review of season 1, there was an episode that was loaded with flashbacks to provide context that was not needed whatsoever. It was the thing I hated most about season 1. It completely butchered the flow of that particular scene, and it was whole-heartedly condescending and infuriating.
I shit you not, there is an unnecessary flashback scene in every single episode of season 2. When it first happened, I was disappointed, but after it happened again in episode 9, I wanted to smack the Duffer Brothers across the face enough times until they completely forgot what the word “flashback” meant.
I don’t know why they do this; perhaps they think its spooky to have jarring flashbacks, but it’s not in the slightest. Perhaps they think their audience is too stupid to follow their undeniably coherent story lines… and if that’s the case, then it’s a damn shame.
Aside from that, there are also enough fake jump scares to merit slight irritation.
There are some cheap plot convenience, but nothing that dampers the story as a whole.
The season is not without its moments of unnecessary cheese, but it’s to a minimum.
There’s a scene where someone is running away from danger, and almost completely out the door, and then he stops and smiles at someone that was waiting for him. And as soon as that happened, because I’ve seen a Hollywood movie before, I instantly knew he was gonna bite it… and sure enough…
Maybe The Duffer Brothers didn’t realize how cliché, cheap, and stupid that sequence was… but then again, they somehow thought putting a flashback in every episode was a good idea, so maybe I’m giving them too much credit.
So make no mistake; I think Stranger Things 2 does some fantastic stuff and has fantastic characters. I’m being hard with them in my criticisms because I love the show and I want it to do better.
Hopefully in the next rendition, they’ll continue doing great things, but they’ll stop doing all of these absolutely awful things that are excruciatingly easy to avoid. The fact that Eleven’s story arch isn’t that interesting is not a big deal… because it pays off in the end. But everything else I mentioned is something I’d expect from amateurs, not a pair of established directors.
I digress. You should see Stranger Things 2. None of the things I hated are deal breakers. I’m trying hard to emphasize this point because I am, for some reason, too emotionally irritated at these problems. I can’t decide if this is going to get a 7 or an 8, so for now I will just give it an enthusiastic