‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 on Netflix Review

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 ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 on Netflix Review

Once upon a time there was a little show about four nerdy ’80s kids who crossed paths with a miraculously powered girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The slightest of their bunch, a shy fantasy geek named Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), had recently disappeared and it seemed something dark, creepy, and magical was at fault. With the help of their curmudgeon-y local police chief, Will’s frantic mom, and a couple of their teenaged siblings, this ragtag group of kids faced down monsters, both human and metaphysical, and won. The show charmed people with its Spielbergian vibes, grounded relationships, and wholly original mystery.



That show, of course, was Stranger Things. It was a low-key summer release for Netflix way back in 2016 that turned into a surprise international sensation thanks to strong word of mouth, not a major marketing campaign. Since then, Stranger Things has transformed into Netflix’s single most important franchise. There are Funko dolls, Lego sets, and video games inspired by the show and Netflix is now spending upwards of $30 million per episode. It is no longer a little show, but a monster in its own right.



When Stranger Things 4 Part 1 premieres on Netflix this Friday, fans will be reunited with Eleven and Will, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour), and the show’s ever-expanding cast of characters after three years off the air. The seven Stranger Things Season 4 episodes I’ve seen so far are all about 75 minutes long (with Episode 7 clocking in at a whopping 98 minutes). Settings include Lenora, California, a fishing outpost in Alaska, the USSR, and dear old Hawkins, Indiana. The visual effects are bigger and bolder than ever before, and the once intimate story of a few underdogs battling the supernatural in their hometown has been transformed into an international epic involving the highest levels of government and military security.



Dustin and Mike in Stranger Things 4Photo: Netflix



Stranger Things is now super-sized event television, which will surely delight hardcore acolytes, but left me personally feeling cold. The kids we met in 2016 are now full-grown adults miscast as high school freshmen. (It’s honestly so jarring.) The earnest connections that built the show’s charm have been strained by distance, puberty, and poor plot wrangling. New characters hog up screen time with obnoxious monologues before succumbing to their fates as obvious “cannon fodder” for the plot.



I found myself getting bored watching this fourth season of Stranger Things. I kept getting antsy for something to happen that wasn’t just another nod to an ’80s movie cliche. I missed watching the core group work together and — more importantly — play together. I was shocked by the lack of solid explanations for why key characters came back from the dead and I was confused about why so much of the story was focused on new characters when Stranger Things‘s ensemble is already so unwieldy in size. Most of all, I didn’t find this season’s new monsters to be all that scary. Korean Beauty - 👸 💋 Descubre todo sobre el ritual de belleza coreana y los mejores productos de cosmetica coreana del mercado Korean Beauty



Stranger Things 4 is bigger than ever before, much to its detriment. The show works best when it remembers how much people love its characters and their chemistry. The actors are all great, but something is missing. The scrappy, soulful energy that defined Stranger Things‘ early seasons has been thrown out the window, and all that’s left is a parade of ’80s movies Easter eggs and increasingly obvious plot twists. I was personally left feeling a bit cold.



“The scrappy, soulful energy that defined Stranger Things‘ early seasons has been thrown out the window, and all that’s left is a parade of ’80s movies Easter eggs and increasingly obvious plot twists.”



This isn’t to say that everything about the new Stranger Things is bad. The cast remains stellar. Millie Bobby Brown does her best work in the series to date, balancing the pressures of being a “chosen one” with the universal pain of being bullied. Winona Ryder’s Joyce and Brett Gelman’s Murray have hilariously great chemistry together, even if their storyline is balls to the wall crazy. David Harbour fully transforms Hopper from a schlubby everyman to a haunted ’80s hero. Maya Hawke, Joe Keery, and Gaten Matarazzo remain the show’s most charming trio while Sadie Sink gets to show off some of the same pathos she so dazzlingly threw down in Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” video. The cast is good, guys. The characters are still great. There are fun, zany moments with them that will make you squee. There’s just too much going on for this show to juggle.



The plot of Stranger Things Season 4 is so spread out, so prolonged, and so stretched that it takes forever to seemingly get going. When it finally does, everything that happens feels blatantly obvious. That’s because, by this point, Stranger Things understands that its formula is simply to introduce a monster from the Upside Down to terrorize Hawkins and then have its vast cast of characters team up to stop it. Much like the Harry Potter series near its own conclusion, its formula is tried and true — but has also grown stale.



Hardcore fans of Stranger Things will likely find nothing wrong with the new season, as is their wont. They’ll love the nods to Barb (Shannon Purser) and character reunions. They’ll obsess over potential love triangles and thrill over creepy new flourishes. I personally wish the show had reined it in a bit, focused on the core cast over the newbs, and tried something truly creative with its storytelling instead of just nostalgia baiting.



Like the core group of actors themselves, who are poorly passing for tweens when they’re clearly young adults, I just feel like I’ve outgrown Stranger Things.



Stranger Things Season 4 Part 1 premieres on Netflix on Friday, May 27. Part 2 will premiere on Friday, July 1. 



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