Stranger Things: A Season 3 Review Roundup
Has Strangers Things 3 gone upside down? The reviews are in.
The third season of Stranger Things has arrived, and it's been almost two years in between seasons. Now that you can watch the latest adventures in Hawkins for yourself, you're probably asking the question, "Is it any good?" Check out what critics think of the gang's latest adventures below.
Stranger Things 3 features the same cast with a new addition. Eleven is still played by Millie Bobby Brown, with Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo, Finn Wolfhard, and Noah Schnapp all reprising their roles as Lucas Sinclair, Dustin Henderson, Mike Wheeler, and Will Byers, respectively. Max Mayfield returns to her Season 2 role as Sadie Sink, while David Harbour (Jim Hopper) and Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers) are both accounted for. New cast member Maya Hawke (Robin) joins the gang in Season 3.
Stranger Things 3 picks up after the events of Season 2. School's out in Hawkins--at least for a few months, as the summer sun shines over the town. There's finally something to do in the form of newly-built Starcourt Mall. Things are changing, people are growing up, and romance is blossoming all around Hawkins. But while the crew is seeking thrills, things get stranger by the minute.
Reviews for Stranger Things Season 3 have begun appearing online. We've collected review excerpts to help give you a sense whether the third season lives up to the series' potential. Head over to GameSpot sister site Metacritic for more reviews.
Stranger Things Season 3
- Directed By: Matt and Ross Duffer
- Written By: The Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, Uta Briesewitz
- Starring: Caleb McLaughlin, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Winona Ryder,
- Release Date: July 4 (United States)
"It's hard to say much more about Stranger Things Season 3 without giving away too much. There's going to be a lot of discussion about what happens to various characters, questions about the ways certain things were revealed, and debate about Season 3's ending, but that will come after the glorious July 4 weekend binge. For now, it's safe to say that Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer have pulled it off: After a lackluster sophomore slump, Stranger Things is back at the top of its game." -- Michael Rougeau [Full review]
"This season's sense of fun, along with its relationship drama and multiple odd pair-ups bring humor and touching moments that recall Game of Thrones at its best. While the story flows in tighter spaces and everyone has a part to play in grander events, the conspiracy is simply a side project. It's a fun excuse to spend the summer in the warmer-than-ever world of Stranger Things." -- Jennifer Bisset [Full review]
"Stranger Things [Season 3] manages to both be exactly what you wanted and nothing like you expected, with its summer setting shifting from the confounding mysteries of the Upside Down and Dr. Brenner into an explosive and action-packed romp towards adulthood. Despite its rocky start, the creators and performers find a way to pull off the impossible and deliver the best season yet, all while honoring their loyal fan base and challenging them to want more from a series known for playing it safe." -- Patrick Cavanaugh [Full review]
"'Stranger Things' will be easier to discuss once everyone has seen it, as the granular details that could spoil fun surprises are the same that need to be mentioned in outlining issues, but overall Season 3 leaves the franchise in a good place. If Season 2 was too serious, too dark, and too fractured, then Season 3 is pretty fun, very bright, and streamlined to deliver sensory overload. The Netflix original still remains trapped by the genres it pays tribute to; content to play out the same outdated archetypes of yesteryear and play off the beloved films that were brought to life from untethered imaginations. But as far as 2019 blockbusters go, 'Stranger Things 3' delivers in a lot of the ways 'Game of Thrones' did not--like a candle in the window, after a cold, dark winter's night." -- Ben Travers [Full review]
"[Season 3] is clearly made for the date Netflix is releasing it on (July 4), which coincides with the season's action in a number of ways. It harnesses a Big Summer Mood, a healthy heap of nostalgia and has plenty of fun references. But its story is also convoluted and far too scattered. The overall pattern of what happens and how is overly familiar, and the stinger for the season doesn't inspire much confidence for a (sure-to-be) fourth season to refresh the formula at all. For better or worse, Stranger Things' new season is as tasty, messy, and fleeting as an ice cream cone on a hot summer's day." -- Allison Keene [Full review]
The A.V. Club
"The series' embrace of something else that was cloying, sticky, and inescapable is cause for asking where a zeal for verisimilitude ends and where extreme product integration begins--the same could be asked of the Starcourt, an immersive piece of set design that also stamps logos across Stranger Things 3 like it's a race car. But the mall's also an important, resonant symbol of the characters' newfound autonomy, and New Coke isn't just another piece of Reagan-administration kitsch--it was a brazen experiment in messing with a good thing, and a cautionary tale for anyone who might attempt something similar in the future. It was change people couldn't believe in. As time goes on and their stars get older, the Duffers and team will need to similarly continue tweaking the Stranger Things formula. They don't have everything flawlessly calibrated in Stranger Things 3, but there's enough of the taste that got viewers hooked in the first place to keep them cracking open one episode after another." -- Erik Adams [Full review]
The Hollywood Reporter
"Stranger Things is a show that absolutely knows its audience, and that leads me to wonder if casual viewers will be more generous to the evidence of familiarity and sluggishness that I experienced. I spent more than half the season thinking Stranger Things might be a show doomed by a refusal, in Coca-Cola terms, to break from its beloved recipe and then the last couple episodes thinking it was a season explicitly about that refusal, representing a turning of the corner. Expect very few of these reservations to get in the way of holiday-weekend bingeing of this too-long-absent series." -- Daniel Fienberg [Full review]
"In fact, Season 3 is so rewarding because of the very fact that it doesn't try to do too much. TV these days feels a responsibility to say something, but aside from the faintest taps into problems we face today--the mall hurting local businesses and signaling the advent of gross Reagan-era capitalism; Nancy (Natalia Dyer) trying to break into her new job but getting stymied by disgusting, misogynistic men; the mere presence of the new villain in Hawkins--Stranger Things wants to be pure entertainment of the simplest degree... Though there are signs that Stranger Things is on the verge of slowing down (one-note villains, the missing feeling of an unearthed '80s treasure), that's not happening yet in Season 3. This is the Stranger Things you came for, and it's the perfect American summer vacation." -- Tim Surette [Full review]
"All of this is a reminder that writing has always been Stranger Things' biggest weakness: When it's not closely following pre-established tropes, the show frequently feels like it doesn't know what to do next. And while it's committed to its characters, it still doesn't quite know how to write meaningful character interaction and meaningful plot action; it's often one or the other. [Season 2] mostly delivered on developing characterizations, but its plot was frequently marching in place without a lot of direction; [Season 3] manages to provide an engaging plot, but it falls down on the character development. It would be nice to have a version of Stranger Things that really levels up and commits to both." -- Aja Romano [Full review]
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