Three years after the conclusion of the third season, Stranger Things returns to Netflix with the fourth season that promised fire and flames. This new chapter, the penultimate of the series that will then end with the fifth, will be divided into two parts: Volume 1, which includes the first 7 episodes, will debut on Netflix on Friday 27 May, while Volume 2, with the remaining 8 episodes. and 9, will be available on July 1st. The expectation of fans is really skyrocketing for this new season, but will Stranger Things 4 be able to pay off? Will the Duffer Brothers be able to restore the same magic of previous seasons so many years away?
Six months have passed since the Battle of Starcourt which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. While dealing with the consequences of what happened, the protagonists separate for the first time: Joyce, Jonathan, Will, and Eleven have in fact moved to Lenora Hills, California. The distance is felt and the difficulties of high school do not make things easier. In this particularly vulnerable time comes a new and horrific supernatural threat along with a gory mystery that, once solved, could put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.
Stranger Things is back. And after having previewed all the episodes of Volume 1, it can also be emphasized one more time: Stranger Things is back. This is because after a first season that literally surprised the whole world and a second and a third that had been "only" confirmations - which, however, it must be said that something was missing that could push the story towards higher goals - this fourth season it opens with a first part that looks to the past, yes, but it takes many steps forward. Having seen only Volume One, obviously, it is not possible to predict how the Duffer brothers will intend to set the ending, but one thing is already certain: it will be something big and that will take into account everything previously narrated.
Focusing more on this season, the fourth is certainly in the name of change. For the first time, in fact, the story of Stranger Things expands outside Hawkins, dividing itself between Lenora Hills, Hawkins, and Russia; our protagonists are no longer all together and are struggling with adolescence, the age of change that each one faces in his own way. Change the not only narrative, moreover: in fact, as announced by Netflix in recent weeks, the new episodes will last a total of 5 hours longer than the previous ones.
|Stranger Things 4/Netflix|
This is because the minutes of the episodes go from 45/60 minutes of those already present in the catalog to 70/100 minutes of this first volume of the fourth season. Definitely a challenging duration and one that will, in a certain sense, scare the public. However, it must also be said that after three years of absence, viewers are almost "hungry" for Stranger Things, and for this reason, such a long duration has a very good chance of being well received.
Also because such a long time is simply necessary. Having unraveled the story in three strands, the series makes an extremely courageous choice: leave nothing aside. Each part of the plot takes its time, and its moments, and moves at the right place: when it needs to slow down, not rush everything, the structure given to this Stranger Things 4 allows the show to jump away from those characters and to draw attention to others. The result? A decidedly interesting and compelling story that prepares for a useful plot for what will later be Volume 2 of the fourth season.
Not to mention, then, that these long episodes are simply sublime from a directorial point of view. And to achieve this, Stranger Things 4 takes a step back, abandoning the more spy-action component of the third season, to return to the horror colors of the first, enhancing them and inserting even more elements that then recall the cinema of the Eighties. Because, after all, the Duffer brothers' show has always been this: a big nostalgia operation which, however, was accompanied by a quality of writing and staging perhaps still unpublished in 2016, for the small screen.
And the two showrunners know this very well, which is why they have a lot of fun both in the script phase - Dungeons & Dragons lovers will be satisfied this time too - and at the time of staging. Needless to say, given the duration, each episode is a small film, budget speaking. And each of the episodes has its own identity, with particular attention to those directed by Shawn Levy, director, and producer of the series and, probably, a personality who has better understood the spirit of the series, concretizing in the best way a vision in some cases even higher than that of Matt and Ross Duffer, who are the creators of Stranger Things.
|Stranger Things 4/Netflix|
And if you mention the budget, you can't help but refer to the special effects used for this fourth season. The series has always been on the rise when it comes to VFX but this time around, incredible peaks are hit, with entire environments built to perfection in CGI and working great. It seems almost trivial to say it, but it is not: even recently we have seen how some series are unable to keep up with their ambitions regarding the uses of digital effects. Stranger Things simply succeeds and takes full advantage of this possibility, to exponentially increase the immersion of the product and make the public travel even more deeply.
On the writing side, as mentioned, the series works very well, because finally, the show begins to respond - in a satisfactory way, taking into account that there is still a whole season left if we exclude Volume 2 - to questions that the public carries with it since. from the first season. And all this happens, very importantly, without any type of retcon. During the drafting of the story, the Duffer brothers opted for coherence and a narrative cohesion that is actually rare to see: nothing of what has already been told is distorted or modified. Indeed, everything is explored in an absolutely interesting and functional way, with the characters drawing the greatest benefit.
In fact, it is the protagonists who are the flagship of this new season. In the face of some relationships perhaps made to change a little too forcedly and a development of Eleven that remains very mysterious, all the characters have their own importance and weight within the narrative. Stranger Things Season 4 manages to find an excellent balance between the most beloved protagonists and also between the characters who in recent seasons had had less space or more marginal importance, such as Nancy and Jonathan.
This situation, consequently, also allows the actors to give their best: if before, to carry on the narration, there was a tendency to rush some parts, in the new episodes, however, each actor can highlight their best qualities: Maya Hawke, for example, has a moment when a Robin monologue is really important and well done by the actress; the new situations in which Millie Bobby Brown's Eleven has fallen allow the actress to highlight all - all - of her already well-known acting skills. Again, the Dustin – Steve couple was formed by Gaten Matarazzo and Joe.
|Stranger Things 4/Netflix|
Keery continues to pierce the screen and here she is taken to other levels, while Max and Sadie Sink become a bit the beating heart of this Volume 1 of Stranger Things, with her managing to give a whole new and absolutely appreciable depth to Max. The same can be said for the new characters, above all Eddie, played by Joseph Quinn, and the villain Vecna.
The first is almost a sort of the third wheel between Steve and Dustin, with the dynamics between the two characters interesting but above all fun to discover; on the second, however, absolutely nothing will be said to avoid spoilers. Tom Wlaschiha, the Jaqen H’ghar of Game of Thrones, also deserves praise: his Dmitri doesn't have a lot of space compared to other new characters, but he is well characterized and the audience will probably learn to love him.
Stranger Things 4: Volume 1 is a very welcome and huge return. Three years after the last season, the flagship Netflix original of recent years returns with seven new episodes in extra-large format and with a new structure in terms of structure. If many changes at the beginning can make you turn up your nose, this is certainly not the case with the show by the Duffer Brothers, who for this fourth chapter have created a story that is divided into three strands that proceed in a perfectly parallel way and which, ideally, if the bar remains high - and there is no way to think otherwise - they will join in a splendid season finale that will only set everything up for the series finale.
Between adolescence, growth, a return to the past - thematic and even literal - and new and already known characters who interact (almost) perfectly, Stranger Things 4: Volume 1 expertly mixes what the series already is with a good dose of novelty. The result? An incredibly fresh mix of nostalgia and horror tints. Going back to Hawkins and the Upside Down will never have been so good!