Saturday, October 28, 2017

But I Digress...Did Lightning Strike Twice? A Stranger Sequel

By Cat

Series Name/Year: Stranger Things (2016-)
Tagline: The world is turning upside down
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Length: Season 2, 9 Episodes (Renewed for a Season 3), Run-time range of 45-61 min. per episode
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: 21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre, Netflix
Producers: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Rand Geiger, Iain Paterson, Dan Cohen, Justin Doble, Brian Wright, Cindy Holland, Matthew Thunell, Andrea Montana Knoll, Emily Morris
Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Andrew Stanton, Rebecca Thomas
Writers: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Justin Doble, Jessica Mecklenburg, Jessie Nickson-Lopez
Actors: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Sean Astin, Kai Greene, Stefanie Butler, Anna Jacoby-Heron, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gabrielle Maiden, James Landry H├ębert, Amy Seimetz, Matthew Cardarople, Chris Sullivan, Linnea Berthelsen
Stunts: Lonnie R. Smith Jr., Jason Charles Hill, Kathryn Howard, Cal Johnson, Max Calder, Anderson Martin, JoJo Lambert, JoAnn Bernat, Reece Fleetwood, Andy Rusk, Philip Dido, Jason Kehler, Fernando Campos, Scott Hunter, Michael R. Long, Kevin Dyer, Adam Horwitz, Jasi Cotton Lanier, Danya Bateman, Chelsea Bruland, Jwaundace Candece, Laurence Chavez, Jeremy Conner, Alex Duke, John Gilbert, Crystal Hooks, Nick Stanner, Ashley Rae Trisler 
For Season One Info Click Here.

Official Season 2 Synopsis: It’s 1984 and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana are still reeling from the horrors of the demagorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

If you caught my last Digression focused on the first season of this breakout Netflix series, you’ll know just how much of a squee-fest watching those first 8 episodes was for me. I adored every second of it. Excited seems a paltry word to describe my anticipation for the next season; and yet, I’ve also been a bit apprehensive.

Could the showrunners capture lightning in a bottle a second time? Would the second installment of the series have the same feel? How would the next season differ and elevate the story?
So many sequels have dreams of being bigger and better, only to fall flat. I know I’ve not been alone in my wish for this show to avoid that pitfall.

Well, Stranger Things fans, I have good news for you. The Duffer Brothers (We All Fall Down, Hidden, Wayward Pines) didn’t disappoint. Once again, I felt like I was watching a movie extended over several installments. Netflix’s new feature to skip intros and credits only makes it that much easier for a fairly seamless viewing session. While my personal time constraints didn’t allow me to binge all 9 episodes at once, I did manage to watch the series in 2 sittings of half and half. If I’d had the time, I could have easily watched the whole thing without skipping a beat. 

FINALLY we find out what happened to the kids of Hawkins – including the adorable and tough heroine, Eleven. 

When we were told that this second season would be darker, they weren’t kidding. This new facet of the saga is more thriller and horror movie and less mystery than the first season. The creature feature element is still strong, but I love how human elements are just as prevalently woven into the story. Conflict and self-discovery drive the stories of the central characters, shining light on their flaws as much as their strengths. There’s some real growth for The Party and those close to them as they take on the journey of this season’s questing.

The show also kept to its core of relying on practical effects as much as possible. I loved the rich nuances that brought to the story. It helped keep events more visceral and feeling real than if it had all been green-screened in. Of course, the show is definitely not devoid of CGI effects, but they’re skillfully layered in so that you almost forget that’s what you’re watching. My pulse was actually racing at a few points. 

The 1980’s nostalgia is still very strong, and pulls from so many aspects of pop culture and a wide variety of movies from the era. One of the new characters reminded me of the guys in The Lost Boys (1987) – stylistically, at least. It might be on purpose, given the character’s name was Billy, played by Dacre Montgomery (Better Watch Out, A Few Less Men, Power Rangers). (I was also drooling over that character’s car. Yes. The car.)

The new cast members flowed seamlessly into the story – from Sadie Sink’s (American Odyssey, Chuck, The Glass Castle) ‘new girl’ to Sean Astin’s (The Strain, The Do-Over, Swing State) Bob ‘the brain’ Newby. From a meta-level, I think it’s absolutely amazing that 80’s movie royalty took part in this experience. Astin played the leader of the Goonies (1985), after all. 

I have even better news for fans of the series. Netflix has already confirmed a third season, according to an interview with the Duffer brothers by Vulture.  They had more to say on the topic of the continuing story.
“We’re thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out,” says Ross. By then, the original band of adorable preteens will be ready for college. “We just have to keep adjusting the story,” says Matt. “Though I don’t know if we can justify something bad happening to them once a year.”
“They’re going to have to get the fuck out of this town!” says Ross. “It’s ridiculous!”

Matt and Ross Duffer with Director Shawn Levy from Entertainment Weekly Article

Aside from the knowledge that the story will definitely continue, at least a little while longer, there’s also a new after-show much along the lines of what Talking Dead (2011-) does for The Walking Dead (2010-) franchise. This show is called Beyond Stranger Things (2017-). It’s not exactly the same format as the other show, as it doesn’t have a live studio audience, but it does bring cast members and production staff together to discuss the happenings of the series and give some inside info as well as behind the scenes goodies. For example, the first episode showed the auditions of the kids that play the main characters in the series. Everyone sits around a table set up like a D&D game is afoot.

It’s understandable why the format is different. Given the fact that the series is dropped a season at a time on the streaming platform, live Q&A with audience members isn’t exactly practical or even feasible. Just keep in mind that this after-show is one giant spoiler-fest, so don’t watch it until AFTER you’ve seen both seasons of the show. If you’re binge-watching the second season, Netflix auto-starts this bonus series immediately after episode 9.

While it’s too early to tell what the next season will bring to the residents of Hawkins, I have some hopes for the show that I can keep my fingers crossed for. Time will tell. In the meantime, definitely check out this new chapter in this sensational story.

For a little lagniappe (something extra), click here to find IMDb's installment of their "No Small Parts" series, featuring the young actors from Stranger Things.

Speech Available: English, Spanish, German, Italian, French
Subtitles Available: English [CC], French, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's our celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

No comments:

Post a Comment