TELEVISION: ‘Stranger Things’

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LUKE EBORA / THE LOYALIST

LUKE EBORA / THE LOYALIST

By Luke Ebora

In a summer marked by intense political debate, incredible displays of international athleticism and tragic terrorism, new television series and movies can easily get lost in the tracks; however, this was not the case for one 80’s throwback show that garnered a cult following almost solely on word-of-mouth alone.

“Stranger Things,” Netflix’s eight-episode sci-fi horror series created by the Duffer Brothers, follows the tale of three outcast kids from suburban Indiana on their search for their missing friend. A tribute to 80’s cult classics such as “The Goonies,” “Firestarter” and “ET,” “Stranger Things” bends genres ranging from horror-thriller to coming-of-age to science fiction all en-route to acting as the most polished and entertaining series to come out this year.

Visually, “Stranger Things” is stunning. Shot by Tim Ives and Tod Campbell, “Stranger Things” impresses with its beautiful cinematography, achieving its signature 80’s look with subtle lighting and a digital overlay of real film. In an effort to ground “Stranger Things” in its 1983 setting, production designers meticulously worked to capture the essence of the decade–– everything from the 1976 model Ford Pinto to the La-Z-Boy recliner in one of the boys’ homes.

The stellar cast, spearheaded by 80’s star Winona Ryder, who plays the distraught mother of the kidnapped Will Byers, and newcomer Millie Bobby Brown, who plays the superpowered girl strangely named Eleven, delivers a powerful performance, with each actor adding to the unique atmosphere of the show.

While most shows featuring child actors would fail in their portrayal of realism, “Stranger Things” succeeds and even impresses, as young actors Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Caleb Mclaughlin (Lucas), each give convincing performances as the adventuring friends of Will Byers.

If anything were to be considered a flaw in “Stranger Thing’s,” the CGI monster would be that flaw, appearing far less realistic than the environment of the series; however, both the acting and writing work well to hide that blemish and develop the intensity of the sci-fi mystery.

One would be remiss to ignore the captivating soundtrack of “Stranger Things,” a synth-based rock score composed by duo Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.  The series echoes the feeling of 1980’s culture while still sounding clearly modern.

From its quaint setting to its vibrant characters, “Stranger Things” captivates, entertains and satisfies up until the final credit scroll at the end of the season finale.

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