After two years of anticipation, the third installment of Stranger Things has finally arrived. Landing on Netflix today, July 4, the new season brings more horror to the small fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, and the verdict is in on whether the wait was worthwhile.
While most of the reviews praise the season for its nostalgic content, using words like “alive,” “vibrant,” and “fun,” others worry that the show’s appeal has come to an end.
That said, Stranger Things 3 currently holds a 96 percent fresh certification on Rotten Tomatoes, so you might want to take some critical responses with a pinch of salt before throwing your holiday bingeing plans into the Upside Down.
Revisit the Stranger Things 3 trailer below and keep scrolling for our review roundup.
It takes the show from good to great
Brian Tallerico, Roger Ebert
“Everything feels more alive and vibrant in Stranger Things 3 than it ever did before. Third chapters in ’80s franchises were rarely any good, but Stranger Things 3 doesn’t copy that aspect of their favorite period in pop culture, taking a show that was already good and moving it into greatness.”
An extraordinary success
Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times
“The success of this weird little series when it debuted in 2016, amid a deluge of peak-TV programming, was the first miracle. An even better sophomore season was the second. Stranger Things 3 is the third act in an extraordinary success story that once seemed as improbable as a girl who can slay monsters with her mind.”
It’s pretty fun
Ben Travers, IndieWire
“If season two was too serious, too dark, and too fractured, then season three is pretty fun, very bright, and streamlined to deliver sensory overload… 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.”
It’s good but enough now
Brian Lowry, CNN
“Success hasn’t spoiled Stranger Things — the special effects certainly reflect an upgrade from season one — but it has made the show a bit more self-conscious… but it feels like time to let the little Indiana town of Hawkins enjoy some hard-earned, monster-free peace and quiet.”
Alison Herman, The Ringer
“In a pleasant surprise, Stranger Things season three manages to walk the line between conscious growth and mood maintenance, demonstrating self-awareness without puncturing its painstakingly recreated ’80s bubble. As in life, leaving childish things behind is scary, but what comes next can be worth the growing pains.”
It relies on nostalgia
Brandon Katz, Observer
“Season three balances good-natured laughs with charming nostalgia through likable characters doing battle against looming horrors. Yet it feels like it’s propping up its past to justify its present. The best thing Netflix could do to maximize its brand benefit is to quit now while it’s still ahead.”
Jen Chaney, Vulture
“It’s also fun to once again be immersed in the supremely retro setting… But the familiarity of the series, created by the Duffer brothers, is also what makes it seem a bit boilerplate at times. If you plan to play a drinking game every time a classic Stranger Things plot development or detail arises, your blood-alcohol level is going to rise quickly.”