‘Stranger Things’ sequel surprises


a&l editor

If your Halloween weekend went anything like mine it consisted of binge watching nine hours of perhaps the most anticipated Netflix Original Series return, “Stranger Things.”
Season 2 of “Stranger Things” released on Friday, perfectly timed to be binged and enjoyed in conjunction with the spooky themes associated with the Halloween holiday.
If you haven’t yet binged the full season, which is highly unlikely considering the addictive nature of the series, I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum.
The second season picks up almost a year after we last left the fictional town of Hawkins, Ind., around late October in 1984.
However, the opening scene of “Stranger Things 2” lacks the familiar town and faces that we’ve come to know.
We open with a car chase scene set in the city of Pittsburgh between the police and a clan of masked fugitives.
The unknown criminals make an impressive getaway thanks to the powers of a young adult woman who we will later learn the name and story of in future episodes.
It’s clear though that this woman is similar to our beloved Eleven, because after using her powers the camera zooms in on the blood trickling from her nose and a tattooed “008” on her inside wrist similar to Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown).
This mysterious woman and her delinquent clan are not the only new characters introduced in season 2.
Episode 1 also introduces us to tomboy Maxine, aka Madmax, and her heartthrob bad boy older brother, Billy.
Both of these characters have their fair share of issues and the tension between the two is apparent early on.
We are also introduced to Joyce Byer’s (Winona Ryder) new boyfriend Bob Newby (Sean Astin), who is perhaps the most important season 2 add-on character.
At first Bob is a character that the audience is reluctant to trust, but throughout the episodes he becomes a beacon of hope for the Byer family and becomes central to the plot.
“Stranger Things 2” also delves further into the love triangle established in season one between Nancy Wheeler, Jonathan Byers and Steve Harrington as well as adding a new love triangle in the younger crowd between Lucas Sinclair, Dustin Henderson and Maxine.
For the most part “Stranger Things 2” does what it needs to do, extending on all the positive aspects that led the first season to be so successful.
The cinematography is excellent, with chilling images of the Upside Down world and gorgy shots of Demodogs that somehow work juxtaposed with scenes set in classic ‘80s homes and high school hallways.
The equipment used to shoot the series and the editing makes it feel as if “Stranger Things” was really shot in the ‘70s or ‘80s, playing perfectly into the nostalgia that makes the series so sentimental.
The score also adds to the nostalgia, somehow successfully conbining eerie horror music with the dance-pop associated with the era.
The standout success of “Stranger Things,” however, has to be the acting.
While the adult acting is impressive, it’s no secret that the stars of the series are the kids.
Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven; Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers; and Fin Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler, are the three who really stand out, probably because they receive the most screen time, and deservingly so.
It’s amazing how talented they are at such a young age ,and it will be exciting to see the roles they take on as they grow up in the business.
The next series of “Stranger Things” already has some complications at hand, one being the age of these child actors who will soon no longer be considered children.
It will be interesting to see when the next series picks up, as it is clear that it will become difficult to pretend that these teens are still in junior high, but yet there are considerable cliffhangers that I can’t image the next season can glaze over with a major time lapse.
All nine episodes of “Stranger Things 2” are available to stream on Netflix as well as seven short episodes of an after show called “Beyond Stranger Things” that is hosted by Jim Rash and features insight from many of the actors in the series and the show’s creators, The Duffer Brothers.

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