As of around 5:00pm on Sunday, the embargo on the reviews for Stranger Things 3 lifted. After more than a year and a half of waiting, you may have clocked out of the hype – and we wouldn’t blame you – but holy shit, the reviews will reel you right back in.
RIGHTO, season three is set in the summer of 1985 and Hawkins has changed with the introduction of a shiny new mall. Before long, the town is under attack by the creatures of the Upside Down and it’s up to our young heroes to save the world… yet again. Overall, the blue ticks are a fan of the third season but once you peel back the layers and start chatting things like plot development and cinematography, opinions start to change.
If you want to read any of these reviews, don’t worry about spoilers. According to Variety, Netflix sent out a massive list outlining what critics could and could not reveal in their reviews.
The list of “do not reveal” spoilers Netflix sent alongside advance episodes is as long as it is strategic, prohibiting me from so much as hinting at who (or what) the determined citizens of Hawkins, Indiana are up against this time.
LET’S GET TO IT.
What I can reveal is that by the time the final credits roll on season 3 (plus a post-credits scene you won’t want to miss), it’s made much more of a case for itself than season 2 ever did simply by trying to be something different.
Variety’s Caroline Framke added that she finished season three assured that as long as the Duffer Brothers keep pushing beyond the crux of season one, they’ll have “more story left in the tank.”
With an overall grade of B, IndieWire said season three leaves the franchise in a good place: “If season 2 was too serious, too dark, and too fractured, than Season 3 is pretty fun, very bright, and streamlined to deliver sensory overload.”
Season 3 of “Stranger Things” delivers an oft-charming, deeper-than-expected, and ultimately enjoyable new chapter. The eight episodes fly by, avoiding the Netflix bloat plaguing other originals — only the finale clocks in longer than 60 minutes and most hover closer to 50 — and even with gaudy in-story ads for Coca-Cola and Burger King, the look of “Stranger Things 3” is pretty stellar.
IndieWire concluded: “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.”
Vox completely broke the season down, labelling what was mostly good, good, great, and bad about it. With an overall rating of 3.5/5, Vox ripped into the season’s editing, the pacing, and side characters but praised the main cast, most of the plot, and the treatment of its main characters.
Like a lot of these reviews, Vox liked season three more than season two.
The positive side is that for viewers whose main concern is hanging out with the kids of Hawkins and enjoying the quirky, nostalgia-laced humour and fun that Stranger Things excels at, season three is pretty much on top of its game.
CoS‘ very thorough review, titled “Stranger Things 3 Is Peak Blockbuster Television,” praised the Duffer Brothers as masters of story and character, despite some initial scepticism.
On paper, “it should feel too silly, too over-the-top, too out of its element … but it’s not.”
It’s succinct, it’s compact, it’s sharper than ever — arguably as sharp as it gets when it comes to event television — and there’s no denying the level of trust that comes from that kind of execution.
Look at this shade: “The way they [Duffer Brothers] thread everything together makes D.B. Weiss and David Benioff look like a possessed Will Byers with a crayon.”
IGN reviewed Stranger Thing 3‘s first episode ‘Suzie, Do You Copy?’ and its first impression? A “great first episode full of drama, suspense, and a few surprises.”
The only worrisome aspect is the ever-expanding ensemble and whether or not there’s enough compelling story to go around.
Overall, IGN scored the premiere 8.8.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s bottom line: “More of the same, for better or worse.”
THR definitely liked aspects of season three but thought the Duffer Brothers were more interested in indulging fans rather than forwarding the story.
It is, indeed, bigger and not better. It’s also bigger and not deeper.
THR concluded: “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.”
TV Line is not messing around, its headline is “Stranger Things Review: Season 3 Just Might Be the Series’ Best Yet.”
The publication scored it A- and, well, just read this:
Mainly what you’ll be doing when you’ve finished your binge is trying to catch your breath (the finale is epic with a capital E, P, I and C), drying your eyes (it’ll also give you feels that you never even knew were feels) and wondering whether you’ll remain on the edge of your seat all the way until Season 4.
10/10 recommend reading this review, it’ll get you so bloody hyped. But alike IGN, if TV Line had to nitpick season three then the size of the cast is an issue.
Again, Time had things to say about the size of the cast because with that many characters, you have a whole bunch of storylines happening at once.
That complexity does create some problems for the show. Especially in the first few episodes, there’s just too much happening.
But for the most part, Time liked it but found – to some extent – that it was more in the business of fan service and ads re: New Coke and Burger King.
As a Stranger Things sceptic, season 3 brought me the most pleasure in its many scenes set amid the harshly lit mall corridors, sticky multiplexes, public pools and country fairs where I was among the last micro-generation of tweens to run wild in the mid-’90s.
Slash Film frothed it. Headline: “‘Stranger Things 3’ Review: The Nostalgic Hit Is Better Than Ever With An Exciting, Emotional Third Season.”
And this stellar quote:
Stranger Things 3 carefully builds its way towards big Spielbergian moments loaded with pulse-pounding action beats against memorable set pieces. And everyone is bringing their A-game.
Unlike a couple of the above reviews, Slash Film thought character imbalance wasn’t an issue in season three. However, it did agree with Vox – some of season three’s aesthetic was off and by off I mean Game-of-Thrones-it’s-so-damn-dark off.
My biggest problem with season 3 is that for several episodes, I found myself squinting and trying to figure out just what the hell I was supposed to be looking at.
But, if you move beyond this then “you’ll be rewarded with what might very well be the best season of this series yet.
Stranger Things 3 will finally hit Netflix, July 4.
If you’ve had absolutely no time to re-binge: