It’s no surprise that your next Netflix Pick is Stranger Things 2. The original cast is back with some incredibly new additions. Time has passed, the story grows larger, and it’s every bit a sequel as it is a continuation. But, does it hold up?
Stranger Things 2 had some massive shoes to fill. This time around there are a lot more moving pieces and a lot more central characters. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is back and hiding out at Hopper’s (David Harbour) place. Hopper is still a bad ass but also takes on the role of father figure. This turn of events is wonderful for the character who was pulled into the Will Byers case. Hopper took the case personally since he lost his own daughter. Eleven is feeling some serious teen-angst being under house arrest. Growing pains combined with her unique upbringing and powers add some powerful scenes.
Will (Noah Schnapp) is back with his friends but far from normal. The kids are handling things pretty well given what they went through a year prior. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is having the hardest time adjusting. He’s not at all the leader he was and basically a shell of himself. Eleven’s presumed death hit Mike harder than the rest. Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) get a lot more to do in Mike’s partial absence.
Joyce (Winona Ryder) is much less tragic this time around. She’s dating a genuinely good man with a name just a bit too on the nose, Bob Newby (Sean Astin). Her friendship with Hopper is still strong. Instead of the mother in distress she’s the mother who’s taking charge.
Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Steve (Joe Keery) are also front and center with their own ghosts, issues, and goals. And of course… the love triangle.
Stranger Things 2 does what Stranger Things originally did so perfectly. It gives you the realest of the real in the characters, reactions, and relationships. So real that when the insane sci-fi elements kick off you are in. Not only do you accept the larger than life elements but the quality of the cast and the likability of the characters has you feeling for them in impossible scenarios.
The second time around doesn’t just deliver exactly what it should but it manages to sidestep everything it should NOT bring to the audience. There is no tiresome sequel elements. The jokes aren’t the same but stepped up. The gags don’t now come in twos. The frights are new, the baddie is new, even the agency that caused the breach is new in feeling, tone, and delivery.
Stranger Things gives us the best parts of the wonder and excitement of watching the adventure films of the 80s and early 90s. The child cast is flawless in their execution as the creepy soundtrack synths its way into your subconscious and burrows.
It’s hard to compare the first and second seasons of Stranger Things so let’s not bother. Let’s just enjoy the latest installment in an all but perfect show.