Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 2 Review

The second episode, though not quite as strong as the first, is still a strong outing that reassures viewers this will be a quality series ahead. It’s hard to say I liked the final ten minutes of this episode, which were frankly terrifying, but they were incredibly effective.

I’m not sure that a whole lot of new information was discovered this episode. Mostly the boys meet Eleven, discover she has superpowers, and realize she’s connected with the monster and Will’s disappearance in some way. But the way they get there is pretty fascinating, and I’m really enjoying the series’ commitment to slow-burning the intriguing plot in favor of doing some character work.

Will’s “promise” explanation seems like Schrodinger’s promise to me, and I’ll be aghast if those words don’t pay off–either to wonderful or tragic end–by the end of the season.

I do find the flashback sequences slightly awkward within the show, especially since I’ve yet to be convinced any of the scenes are necessary. It’s good to see Will, but honestly I was already endeared to him by the “I rolled a 7” line in the premiere; I’m invested in his safe return. And what else do these flashbacks tell us? Jonathan and Will were somewhat close, and Eleven was traumatically locked in a room (both of which I could have guessed). I’m not opposed to the flashback device, I just wish it was slightly better deployed.

Either way, I’m looking forward to episode 3, which was singled out by the AV Club in their 2016 TV roundup as the best single episode of the season. Here’s hoping it’s marginally less terrifying than this one!

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Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Review

I am not the target audience for this show. “Stranger Things” is a love letter to movies like “E.T.” and “The Goonies.” I never saw those movies as a kid. In fact, I’ve still never seen the latter film. I wasn’t even alive during the ’80s. But boy do I love this show. “Stranger Things” is more than a nostalgia trip; it’s a good science fiction drama. Continue reading

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Why I Liked “American Sniper”: Its Defiant Apoliticism

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I walked into American Sniper, but I expected it to be controversial. I was a week late in seeing it, after the film took the box office by surprise and became the second-biggest R-rated movie of all time (behind 2004’s The Passion of the Christ). It seemed everyone I knew had seen it and had an opinion on it. “American Sniper is anti-Muslim and merely war propaganda” posts were mixing simultaneously with “American Sniper is pacifist and anti-war” posts. So the biggest surprise of Sniper was not its politics when I left the theater; it was its utter lack of politics. Continue reading