Stranger Things Review – Chapter 1


I need to get something off my chest from the start. I absolutely love Winona Ryder. She’s only a few years older than me, and I’ve seen *runs back to IMDB to count – counts fast* at least 33 of her 59 acting credits. At least. Put it this way: her first acting role – Rina in Lucas – touched me so much, Rina is a character in one of my novel series – she’s the MAIN main character. It’s safe to say, Winona is my favourite female actress. I’m not even gonna go into how much I fangirled that she’s Spock’s mama… moving on.

When I saw that she was going to be in this new flick from Netflix, “Stranger Things”, I was obviously interest-piqued. Amidst moving and getting settled though, I hadn’t had a chance until August 23 to check it out; over a month and nearly a week since it’s debut. I realise that there are reviews out there about it already, so I’m hoping mine is well received as well.

Note: I will have spoilers, but they will be AT THE END, and you’ll have to scroll for them, so if you don’t want to see them, stop where I say, and you won’t see anything you don’t want to learn ahead of time.

My rating: very strong 8.5/10
Best acting: Milly Bobby Brown, my girl Winona, and then the rest of the cast.
Genre: Sci-fi supernatural (let’s just leave it as that, so people can sleep at night – though calling it “true sci-fi/horror” might be what the screenwriters were hoping to achieve).
Age appropriateness: I think with honest discussion, 8 year old kids could easily grasp the concept – I know kids younger who wouldn’t be scared by it as well, but there are some who would easily be frightened by the imagery and the fact a boy disappears, not to mention the other parts of the story that are a bit intentionally less-than-happy.

Oh, one last bit before I start: Yeah, I binged the entire thing in one day. Now, on with the first review.

Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers.
November 6, 1983    Hawkins, Indiana.

Basic synopsis: A boy, Will, is heading home after playing at his friend’s house, and disappears.

Now, a bit more meat on the plate:
The story is broken into 8 chapters, so I’m going to give my review based off each one – yeah, I took notes, because that’s what a good lil nerd does. Be prepared; this isn’t your normal review if you haven’t guessed that already.

I love that Dungeons and Dragons is prominently featured in this entire series. It is fitting not only for the time frame, but I think will lend itself quite well into the rest of the episodes, if they play up on how that first scene rolls. Get it? Rolls, like a 20-sided… right, moving on…

Mike is adorable right from the start, and I feel like he’s going to be the unspoken leader of the group. He’s smaller, usually level-headed, and just decent. His family life is very 80’s suburbia, and he’s growing up in the quintessential 2.5 kids (older sister, *very much* younger sister, he’s the middle child).
Dustin has cleidocranial dysplasia (say: clie-doh-CRAY-nee-ul diss-PLAY-zee-a) – simply put, his adult teeth are taking longer to grow in after his baby teeth fell out. The young actor who portrays Dustin is charismatic and I adore him to bits. I think he’s gonna play a fun role. He’s like the group’s teddy bear.
Lucas is the “straight talkin” smart mouth kid who I can see being hot-headed, and yet passionate about his loyalty. He’s devoted, but he doesn’t take no guff from anyone, that’s for sure.
Will is the quiet, shy, seemingly ‘brains’ of the operation, yet I feel we won’t see most of his ability to work as the leader that the other boys look up to. Obviously with a chapter title called “The Vanishing of Will Byers”, you know he’s not going to be in every scene calling the shots.

The boys have been playing their current campaign of DnD for over 10 hours (easily done, trust me, oh the memories… right, focus, Pixie!), and they have a huge roll ahead that goes flying off the table… do they kill the demigorgon? They need at least a 13 to beat him!

Mrs Wheeler yells from the top of the stairs that it’s time to pack up, but the boys, fearless warriors and wizards and such are busy trying to find out if they’ve been victorious in slaying the foul creature. While Mike is talking to his mom, the boys find the die and realise… well, that’d be a spoiler, so I’m leaving that out for now. Suffice to say, the game ends shortly thereafter.
Will tells Mike on his way out how the campaign finished, for good or bad, and they bid goodnight to one another. Lucas heads in the opposite direction from Dustin and Will, while the two boys decide to race each other home. The winner gets Dustin’s X-Men #134.

Joyce (my girl, Winona is Will’s mama) and Jonathan (Will’s older brother) are both working late when Will gets home.

Will’s not at school the next day, and I just hate that there are bullies, but at the same time, if there weren’t, it wouldn’t be as believable. I mean, these are the smart kids, and the nerds, the AV boys, the science geeky awesome boys who quote Star Wars and Lord of the Rings (sorry Dustin, The Hobbit!), and stand up for one another. Friends are loyal.

Eleven is fantastic.

Joyce and Jonathan are going to be social outcasts, that’s for sure. You can tell they don’t have much money, and their home is ‘the best they can do’.

And lemme just say this one last thing before I start my spoilers for this episode: Hopper, I really want you to be a decent cop. Please be a decent cop. Be the good guy. Take Joyce seriously and believe her.

Now: SPOILERS AHEAD


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STOP now if you don’t want to see what happens.

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Go check out Chapter 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street

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I’m not even kidding, I am gonna unleash all manner of my thoughts and drop hints and ideas and foreshadowing details I think (even though I’m writing this post-8th chapter, so obviously I know how it all plays out) are going to happen (and yeah, I’m happy I’m right a lot of the time).

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Don’t go any further.

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Last chance. After these V’s you’re gonna be grouchy if you don’t stop now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Spoilers:

*continuity issues first*
He leaves the door open, the phone off the hook, and the dog is barking like crazy at the shed door. Really? Jonathan and Joyce both miss those three crucial things? If I haven’t seen both of my cats in a couple hours, I become frantic, even if I know they haven’t been granted opposable thumbs to enable them to leave the house, so it blows my mind that the mom and the brother aren’t immediately going to look in obvious places.

Having said that, if they HAD went to the shed, they’d have seen the bullets on the counter… that’s normal? No, oh, there’s a problem. NOW we get the cops involved. Eww, don’t bring a deadbeat dad into it… *sigh* poor kids have to deal with that sliminess?

And as far as the gun is concerned, he was holding it… where is it the rest of the time? Did he take it with him? What happened to it?

Ted is spineless. IDC what anyone says, he is a non-entity in that household, and because of which, I hope beyond everything that he rarely has screen time.

I actually teared up with Dustin yelled “I’ve got your X-Men 134!” – not even gonna lie.

Joyce is gonna go off the rails, I can see it. I’m so glad they got Winona to play this role, she’s going to bring Joyce all the levels of hellishly emotional realness that I adore in her style of acting. Bring it on Joyce, let us feel your pain.

And Eleven, can you be more adorable? I’ve never wanted to hug a child more than when she shows up and eats those fries like that…

Okay, those bullies really need their karmic retribution. Please make it something tangible and not something over the top – don’t kill them, just make them go away.

Hopper, please, do the right thing. Let us adore you. Be the good guy. IDC if you’re the anti-hero, just do the thing right.

The writers nailed the 80’s so well. I’m hoping if they are going to make this an ongoing series, that they keep the vibe and feel fresh and current with the time frame they are playing into.

I adore Matthew Modine, but you know he’s gonna be all nefarious and evil – I wonder if we’ll get to see the side of him that has any compassion as the despotic lab testing mad scientist.

Okay, onto Chapter 2!

Sera Hicks on Blogger
Sera Hicks
Creative Journey Leader, Intern Supervisor, Admin, Writer at Geeks and Geeklets
Geeky Hobbit-loving Whovian. Lover of chocolate, cats, and crafty things. Writer, Creative Journey Leader. It has to be better tomorrow.