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Stranger Things Season 4 Review (Volume I and II)

by Robert Cain about a month ago in review
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The wildly popular series blasts back onto our screens with a darker tone and wide variety of set pieces.

As the biggest show on Netflix, Stranger Things has reached a gargantuan level of popularity. Unlike other creations from the platform, it has regularly succeeded at getting us fully invested in the story and characters. The highly anticipated fourth chapter has arrived; going both deeper and darker than previous entries.

Eight months after their split, the Hawkins troupe are contending with high school and the onset of a greater danger. An old threat has risen from the upside down, slaughtering residents to open gateways between the two worlds. Every member of the group plays their part to fight back; whether it’s within the cursed town or overseas, together they work to unravel the mystery and prepare for a gruelling confrontation. With a more sinister tone established, Stranger Things firmly embraces a central narrative. The first two episodes tap into the typical eighties niche, climbing down from the snazzy Starcourt Mall in the last season, but from there it’s full steam ahead. Cutting between a total of four locations, we’re treated to a rollercoaster of action and drama. First up is Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) who struggles to fit into a new town despite the best efforts of Will (Noah Schnapp), Jonathon (Charlie Heaton) and Joyce (Winona Ryder). Then we have Mike (Finn Wolfard) Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Robin (Maya Hawke), Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Steve (Joe Keery) who tackle the danger in and around Hawkins itself. Finally, there’s Hopper (David Harbour), whose icy predicament is best discovered on your own. All of these perspectives are well balanced and equally engaging, feeding into the overarching narrative with no wasted scenes. The first volume is capped off by a superbly executed call-back to Eleven’s past and the feature length volume two is an intense nail-biter. The stakes have never been higher and Stranger Things 4 is adept at building up the most thrilling sequences.

The cast is as memorable and likeable as ever; in their adolescence the younger members are taking on more ambitious material and it goes a long way to move beyond the nostalgia of the setting. What the series does so well is delivering poignant character moments that draw out our sympathies. There are too many of these to count in season 4, but know that each one of them is performed beautifully. When Eleven is pushed around by bullies early on, you feel her isolation and when Jonathon reconnects with his little brother towards the end, it feels incredibly empathetic. Ever piece of the ensemble gets their moment in the spotlight while the new characters, for the most part, are laced with likeable personalities. Jonathon’s stoner friend Argyle (Eduardo Franco) has plenty of humorous one-liners and Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) maintains his likeability even when the entire town hates him. A gruff military commander and his platoon also make an appearance, though they are easily the weakest element of the series. They’re mostly pursuing the main characters and don’t have any connections to the main threat. With every main performance being so stellar, this does stick out as the season goes on.

The supernatural elements continue to expand in Stranger Things 4 and the implementation of classic eighties cinema is in full effect. The heaviest influence this time is A Nightmare On Elm Street which shows through the villain and his vicious machinations. Grisly make-up work and the thunderstorms of his realm make Vecna a menacing presence throughout. The practical elements blend so seamlessly with the computer-generated effects with a ton of pyrotechnics to boot. The upside down continues to get more chaotic and this brings an increase in scale. Venturing outside of the US leads to many frigid moments, but the state-side variety is equally strong. The major set pieces are truly spectacular, a superb coalescing of music, special effects and story. You may have already heard about Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” heightening an escape scene, but other tracks are used equally well. A sudden shootout brings an intense one-take sequence and a showdown with the military caps off one episode with immense destruction. The series has escalated to an aggressive peak and the presentation is fully in tune.

Stranger Things continues its rip-roaring success with another brilliantly produced set of episodes; everything fires on all cylinders as soon as the setup is complete. The most impressive achievement of season 4 is how it successfully tells a more mature story despite the characters being divided by geography. The mega-fans have already watched it from start to finish; everyone else should jump in as soon as possible.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars (Brilliant)

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About the author

Robert Cain

I'm a well-travelled blogger and writer from the UK who is looking to spread his blogs and freelance writings further afield. You can find more of my work at https://robc25.wixsite.com/thecainagecritique.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (9)

Sign in to comment
  • Rebekah Theresa Robertsabout a month ago

    Loved your take on a series I'm absolutely obsessed with! Thanks for sharing!

  • Brian Scott Clarkeabout a month ago

    I saw a typo " every piece of the" was spelled ever. I liked it though and btw my grammer is terrible and my punctuation too.

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    I have seen a few episodes of Stranger Things, though I got bored with it fast. It is interesting but it just doesn't engage me much. However, the main idea behind it is interesting.

  • Yaaline Vigneswaranabout a month ago

    Never watched the show yet, but looking forward to it!

  • Cristina Hectorabout a month ago

    Best season yet!! Thanks for sharing 🧡

  • Cassie Smithabout a month ago

    I love stranger things. I love this post!!

  • Jennifer Trueabout a month ago

    Love this show. Nice review. :)

  • Heshan Nayanajithabout a month ago

    good post

  • Heshan Nayanajithabout a month ago

    https://7r6.com/PgwArFIq

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