Stranger Things – Season 4 – Vol. 1: the fourth season of the Duffer Brothers’ series almost fatally succumbs to its own weight and the idea that “more is more”. The series has been expanding its group of characters more and more since its sophomore season, but this time around each nucleus is so geographically dispersed that any interaction between them is impossible. It seems that the writers lost sight of what makes the series so special: the interplay between the multitude of characters, and the fate of Hawkins. Furthermore, it creates a combination of discomforts: some of the storylines are simply too dull, and the characters in those storylines are still missed when they are ignored. So far, the payoff for the extra-long episodes with the fractured groups is just not there.
This is not to say that when the series is in the right place, it’s not its old self, entertaining, funny, and creepy. The kids, even as they get older, remain charming; Gaten Matarazzo is funny as ever, and Sadie Sink absolutely nails one episode centered around her. Joe Keery proves to have again and again a very interesting character in his hands; Maya Hawke’s awkward girl is a hoot. Newcomer Joseph Quinn is fine as a crucial character in the plot, and so is Jamie Campbell Bower. The series remains scary, with good special effects and production design, well captured by the cinematographers.
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