Stranger Things 2

Rated 3.0

The gang is all back, just one year later, for another round of ’80s horror and sci-fi nostalgia, and maybe they should’ve taken a little more time to let things settle in. The new, intermittently enjoyable season feels a little stretched out and undercooked at times, with a lot of silly subplots mucking up the works. Will (Noah Schnapp) still sees visions of the Upside Down universe, the place he spent a good part of season one languishing in while his pals searched for him. It turns out Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), after her huge season one sacrifice going into the Upside Down, came back to our universe almost directly after, and is hiding out with Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) in a storyline that makes little sense. Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), in a shameless nod to E.T., has captured a creature in his garbage can, and feeds it Three Musketeers bars instead of Reese’s Pieces. Winona Ryder overacts while Paul Reiser basically replaces Matthew Modine as the scientist guy. Season two manages to maintain the charm that made the first season so watchable, so fans won’t be disappointed. But, there’s no denying that the proceedings seem a little strained this time out, and the Duffer Brother are going to have to work overtime to make future installments worthwhile. Notable movie references, besides E.T., include Jaws, Pretty In Pink, The Goonies—Sean Astin joins the cast!—Lost Boys, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (Streaming on Netflix.)