The highly-anticipated third season of the sci-fi fantasy drama, which hits Netflix this Independence Day, has received positive reviews among many critics. In fact, "Stranger Things" Season 3 is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a high score of 93 percent.
Those who have screened the show early have described it as "oft-charming, deeper-than-expected, and ultimately enjoyable new chapter" and "more entertaining" than the not-so-well-received Season 2. Multiple critics praised this season's action sequences -- one journalist even called the CGI effects this season "pretty stellar."
And according to television critics, the series finale is one of the best, if not the best of the franchise. Some have described the finale -- Season 3 Episode 8 "The Battle of Starcourt" -- as "bittersweet," "emotional" and the "most satisfying finale to date." One thing is for sure, these reviews are getting us hyped.
Check out Netflix's logline below and read on to see what critics are saying about "Stranger Things 3."
It's 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana, and summer's heating up. School's out, there's a brand new mall in town, and the Hawkins crew are on the cusp of adulthood. Romance blossoms and complicates the group's dynamic, and they'll have to figure out how to grow up without growing apart. Meanwhile, danger looms. When the town's threatened by enemies old and new, Eleven and her friends are reminded that evil never ends; it evolves. Now they'll have to band together to survive and remember that friendship is always stronger than fear.
Mainly what you'll be doing when you've finished your binge is trying to catch your breath (the finale is epic with a capital E, P, I and C), drying your eyes (it'll also give you feels that you never even knew were feels) and wondering whether you'll remain on the edge of your seat all the way until Season 4.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Season 3 of Stranger Things is a thrill ride that you won't want to end.
One of the things I found most interesting, and also most charming, about the second "Stranger Things" season was that even if the show had gone from utterly under-the-radar July release to cultural phenomenon, the Duffer Brothers mostly avoided "bigger is better" excess. Some of that restraint is gone in this third season, and, with it, some of the accompanying quaintness and intimacy. There are effects shots in the premiere that exceed anything attempted in the first two seasons combined, and the reliance on CG effects is far greater throughout.
As the end of this season approaches, "Stranger Things" becomes one sustained action scene after another, one soaring drone shot after another and one conflict after another that forces our heroes to stare down elaborate digital creatures. The effect that I really liked is on the "Do Not Spoil" list, but for the most part the obvious escalation of onscreen budget looks fine, even if the enhanced artifice probably reduces the scariness of these episodes, as well as the joyful feeling of ingenuity the show initially yielded. And the concentration of scale over intimacy undermines several events that should have generated much more emotion than I ever felt.
By doubling down on relationship stories, Season 3 of "Stranger Things" delivers an oft-charming, deeper-than-expected, and ultimately enjoyable new chapter. The eight episodes fly by, avoiding the Netflix bloat plaguing other originals -- only the finale clocks in longer than 60 minutes and most hover closer to 50 — and even with gaudy in-story ads for Coca-Cola and Burger King, the look of "Stranger Things 3" is pretty stellar. Fans will be happy, skeptics will spot problems, but it's hard to fight the feeling that this mega-franchise still knows how to have fun.
But 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. And in terms of just plain ol' liking "Stranger Things" for what it is, I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might...
Though it still doesn't have the freshness of the first installment "Stranger Things" the new season marks an improvement over its predecessor, which essentially rehashed the original plot with a bigger budget and an absurd episode that sent El to Chicago. Hawkins National Laboratory is a ruin. Creators the Duffer Brothers wisely sidestep the narratively exhausted Upside Down. An ever-growing cast gives them the bandwidth to establish roughly five simultaneous storylines that feel novel for the show, if not for '80s-nostalgia culture at large.
Doing the same thing a third time wasn't going to work, and thankfully creators Matt and Ross Duffer have figured out how to make Season 3 (streaming Thursday, ★★★œ out of four) its own beast. Except for a few cheesy moments here and there, the new episodes are exuberant and excellent, nearly surpassing the creative heights of the first season and providing a path to keeping things strange for years to come.
It's nearly impossible to discuss the mystical plot of "Stranger" without revealing a long list of spoilers Netflix wants kept mum. But we can say that the series builds upon its Steven Spielberg and Stephen King influences with an homage to alien invasion and zombie films, creating a genuinely terrifying (and really rather disgusting) new threat.
"Stranger Things 3" is not the revelation that was the show's rookie run, nor is it the bigger and endearingly messy slow-build that was Season 2. At this point, creators and showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer have settled into a consistent, reliable high floor of quality. That level never quite elevates to something more, though you don't necessarily lament the lack of a second-gear. It's like the show woke up and knew that despite the love it (rightly) elicited from us all, it really had no business in the same company as fellow nominees such as FX's The Americans and Netflix's own The Crown.
For all the craft and the care the Duffers continue to exhibit in their characterizations, world-building, and tension-ratcheting, there is an aversion to merging the everyday and the out-of-the-ordinary in season three -- a balance that was a big part of the appeal of seasons one and two. The out-of-the-ordinary has become the everyday in Hawkins, but once the monsters make themselves known, they're the No. 1 priority, tackled in three diverging storylines that, fortunately, converge in the series' most satisfying finale to date.
It doesn't make for a deeper version of the series, but it does make for a more entertaining one, the second half of the season barreling across Hawkins in a string of white-knuckle, scenery-wrecking visits to the community pool, the hospital, Hopper's cabin in the woods, a Fourth Of July fair, and, finally, the Starcourt. With a renewed, slime-and-squish emphasis on body horror, it's the most visceral Stranger Things has ever been—as the premiere points out, "Day Of The Dead" came out the summer of '85, too.
"Stranger Things 3" will be available to stream Thursday, July 4 on Netflix.