Review: 'Stranger Things 3' cranks it up to eleven
Courtesy of Netflix
"Sweeter. Bolder. Better.”
These are the words of Lucas describing New Coke in season three of Stranger Things, but they could easily be used to describe the just released new season on Netflix after a disappointing season two. The Duffer Brothers are back with their best season yet in eight fun-filled episodes that lean into the 80’s setting more than ever before while also celebrating the value of friends, family, and love.
Unlike the first two seasons, girl power is in full effect in season three. Eleven (Mille Bobby Brown), learning to be a typical teenager and, via Max (Sadie Sink), the power girls have over boys, displays stronger abilities against this season’s big bad. Nancy (Natalia Dyer) rises above her sexist colleagues and focuses on uncovering a big story for her job at The Hawkins Post. Lucas’s (Caleb McLaughlin) much smarter-than-her age little sister, Erica (Priah Ferguson) gains a hilarious, larger role. And we’re introduced to Robin (Maya Hawke), Steve’s (Joe Keery) intelligent, sassy, and adorable co-worker. Hawke, daughter of famed actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, clearly has learned a lot from her mom and dad in her season-stealing role.
After a brief opening scene in Russia, 1984, where the Commies are working on a secret project, the story returns to the city of Hawkins where locals are enjoying the summer of 1985 at the local pool and at the newly opened Starcourt Mall stuffed with old favorites like Orange Julius, Sam Goody’s, and Walden Books. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven, Lucas and Max, and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and his supposed camp girlfriend are discovering new love. Steve, working at the mall’s ice cream shop, Scoops Ahoy, alongside Robin is trying his best to re-discover his lost cool factor despite being forced to wear the world’s most embarrassing uniform. And Hopper (David Harbour), despite the frustrations of having to referee raging teenage hormones at his home, has found love of his own, as a dad to Eleven.
But it is Hawkins and all can’t be well for too long. Will (Noah Schnapp), clearly knows something is amiss as he fights his back-of-the-neck feelings that the Mind Flayer is close, but being the odd-man out while his best friends are enjoying their newfound love leaves him silent on these increasing developments. Joyce (Winona Ryder), still mourning Bob, turns her focus on solving why magnets throughout town are losing their magnetism certain that it’s something sinister. Billy (Dacre Montgomery) is quickly about to learn the downside of meeting a married woman at the Motel 6. And, Dustin intercepts a mysterious message form the Rooskies that ultimately sends the Scooby Gang on a new adventure. To share more spoils much of the fun.
What can be shared is that despite the series taking 30+ years ago, it shares many similarities to today — mom and pop stores are closing because of a new threat to the local economy and the Russians are a threat. The Duffer Brothers playfully echo 80’s movie’s Red Dawn and Rocky IV with this latter theme.
With its many thrills and just as many chills, season three which takes place over the week of July 4th offers fireworks not to be missed!
All episodes of "Stranger Things" season three are streaming on Netflix
About: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day.With a past career in the publishing industry, working with libraries and K12 and academic institutions, one would think that Mark adopted a greater love of reading books, however if it isn’t the newspaper, entertainment industry magazines (Variety and Entertainment Weekly are his favorites), or perusing websites such as Deadline, THR, and Cinemablend, it doesn’t readily exist in Mark’s universe.Favorite Films: Goodfellas, Glengarry Glen Ross, Cocktail, Top Gun, Dazed and Confused, The Breakfast Club, Austin Powers, Airplane