REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' season three

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Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Natalie Dyer (Nancy Wheeler) and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven/Jane Hopper). (Netflix)
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Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Joe Keery (Steve Harrington) and Maya Hawke (Robin Buckley). (Netflix)
Updated 21 July 2019

REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' season three

  • Hit series returns, funnier and freakier

DUBAI: Netflix’s “Stranger Things” crossed the line from hit series to cultural phenomenon pretty early on with its mix of Eighties nostalgia, sweetly humorous kids-coming-of-age story, sci-fi thrills and genuinely spooky scenes.

After a second season that brought a darker, more dangerous vibe but lost some of the fun, showrunners the Duffer Brothers seem to have struck a better balance between the two in the third season, released last week.

Set in the summer of 1985, the central gang of kids: Mike Wheeler, Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair, Max Mayfield, Dustin Henderson and telepath Eleven (or El — or Jane Hopper as she’s now the legal adoptive daughter of Sherrif Jim Hopper) are on school vacation, and it’s that awkward summer when the boys start to take more interest in girls than in Dungeons & Dragons, much to Will’s chagrin. Mike and Lucas are (at the start of the series at least) bumbling their way through relationships with El and Max respectively. The Duffers mine these awkward ‘first-love’ scenarios for rich humor and some genuinely touching moments, as well as some realistic takes on how the complications of love interests affects the tight-knit gang of boys we met in the first series. And of how they enable Max and El to bond. It’s great to see El relax into hanging out with her first real girlfriend (in the platonic sense).

There’s plenty of humor too in the double-act of Dustin and Steve Harrington — formerly the high-school heartthrob, but now struggling to retain his ‘cool’ edge while working in an ice-cream parlor in the town’s new social hotspot, the Starcourt Mall. New arrival Robin is his co-worker — and thorn in side, constantly puncturing his ego.

Of course, there’s a darkness stirring too. The sinister, otherworldly monster defeated by El at the end of season two is not, it seems, as gone as everyone thought. Strange power fluctuations trigger Will’s awareness of his nemesis, and the kids quickly realize that their summer holidays aren’t going to be as carefree as they’d hoped. There’s the issue of exploding rats, for starters, and Max’s older brother, Billy, is acting very, well, strange.

Everything that made “Stranger Things” so wildly popular, then, is still in place, including stellar performances from the ensemble cast and the eye-catching attention to Eighties pop culture (new Coke, Phoebe Cates and Ralph Macchio, for example), to — of course — the unsettling notion of something very wrong happening just beneath Hawkins’ shiny, happy surface.

Lead roles for Saudi stars as Okaz Nights concerts begin

Photo supplied
Updated 25 August 2019

Lead roles for Saudi stars as Okaz Nights concerts begin

  • Abadi Al-Johar and Dalia Mubarak shine in wonderful musical evening

TAIF: The Okaz Nights series of concerts began with a wonderful evening featuring Saudi stars Abadi Al-Johar and Dalia Mubarak at the Okaz Main Theater, which has been given a new look.

The concerts are part of Taif Season, which is presenting events throughout August. The concert with Al-Johar and Mubarak, which sold out quickly, was well received by the audience of more than 2,500.

The evening began at 9.30 p.m. with a collection of new and old songs from Mubarak, supported by 27 musicians. Al-Johar then greeted her with beautiful and famous songs.

Emirati singer Hussain Al-Jasmi also performed at the theater, which will host Syrian musical artist Asala Nasri on Aug. 28 and Ahlam Al-Shamsi on Aug. 30.