Squid Game (2021) | Netflix Series Review

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Squid Game is a South Korean survival drama Action Mystery television series streaming on Netflix. Each episode is about an hour long.

We like to play some games in our house, like Exploding Kittens and Takaido. But the new Korean Netflix thriller Squid Game might just be a little beyond my skill level. Let’s check it out.

Squid Game Review

Squid Game is written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk. Its stars includes Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, and Kim Joo-ryoung.

456 desperate contestants compete with each other in a mysterious and deadly survival game involving multiple rounds of childhood games. In order to win ₩45.6 billion in prize money that can pull them out of their misery.

Now we get some really good character development across several of the episodes.

The first half of the first episode is really just building out the main character of Gi-hun. He’s down on his luck and you could almost think of him as like this perpetual loser at life.

He’s in debt, something crazy, and he’s basically just given up on life. He’s approached to play this game with a stranger, and after quite a while he’s given a card with a phone number on it.

And once he calls, Gi-hun is picked up by this mysterious van, and then he finds himself waking up with a ton of other people, all wearing numbered tracksuits.

They soon learned that they must play these games with the ultimate prize being just a crap ton of money.

Now the catch is if you lose the game, you lose your life. So the way the money pot works is that as the number of players decrease, the overall potential winnings increase.

Now the set design and production values are just so well executed in this. The sets are extremely complex, yet with the simplicity that creates a certain beauty to their construction.

And the games are very elementary, but I think it’s brilliant how the show is able to take such a basic game, say, like red light, green light and make it terribly suspenseful.

All the games that are played stem from childhood games, and the settings contain playground themes that I think contrast really well with the extreme violence that occurs during the actual games. And It’s like Innocence versus Treachery, which is unsettling but effective.

I love the show’s concept. It takes a very simple premise and then asks what’s a horrifying twist we can put on it. One that ends in violent death. So every game is extremely tense and anxiety ridden.

This has Hunger Games or even Battle Royale feel to portions when the games begin, but then they toss in a healthy dose of Alice in Borderland, and the series becomes insane.

There’s also a social experiment portion of this that is exciting to watch as just human baseness comes out. And it’s almost a bit like in The Lord of the Flies.

You have people who are left to their own devices, and when they’re especially in groups, they don’t always choose to be altruistic and honorable. And that right there is on full display here.

There’s also a morality play at the center of the chaos. The themes of choices, greed, even righteousness, and friendship are explored.

Now, sometimes they hit powerfully and other times they’re only mildly examined. This is amazingly taught with suspense, and the show frustratingly will leave us on this super exciting cliffhanger and then go to credits.

Now, thankfully, with Netflix’s wisdom, the next episode, it just starts immediately so we can keep that blood pressure up at just that heart attack-inducing rate.

Not all of the episodes contain games. Sometimes the show will take the episode to build out our characters just even more and then develop the story depth to introduce more conflict.

But when there are games, I mean, watch out, they’re crazy. And episode four, I think, might cause some seizures because there are a lot of flashing lights in this.

It actually started to make me a little bit dizzy because the scene went on for several minutes.

Now while some episodes are frenetic and high action, there are others that create their suspense from just the quiet and the calm interactions.

And every episode contains some level, though, of palpable apprehension. And there are some gut punches that come at the least expected times, which I think makes them even more moving.

And then when we get some of the reveals, they make this out to be just a sick and twisted tail.

I like that there’s a slight mystery quest that’s going on in the background of the games, and it provides a little more intrigue and backbone to the show, especially because there’s not really any other mechanism for just this information to be uncovered.

I mean, it’s not like the players have the ability to uncover certain info, so to have another character involved who helps to fill in the gaps, and that also works to create a different type of tension.

Now I think if you listen closely to some of the conversations, the outcomes are obvious, but this doesn’t take away from their emotional heft.

There are also several of the story reveals that I think you can guess correctly. There are a few key ones that I made that ended up being right.

But it did surprise me because I wasn’t absolutely certain of the guesses. They were just more of Hunches based on what I had observed and heard.

I think a little of the side story that I had mentioned takes away from the main tension as we get closer to the end of the season.

It’s not like it ruined the show by any means. It just felt slightly like this distraction from the overall game unease.

There were points where it actually did kill my nervousness a little bit by causing the story to break away from the action that was happening during one of these games.

And I like what they were trying to do with the side story because it did add good content. It just wasn’t always employed at the right times.

There’s also a storyline that it is developed and then only partially resolved, and I found it frustrating that we follow this character through so much drama to only have it not fully answer the why of their quest.

It made that story arc less effective and almost pointless in the long run. Now this doesn’t shy away from the violence.

I mean, it is a bloody mess and sometimes the Gore that is shown. I think it’s quite gruesome. Sometimes it was a little much, but I do applaud their attention to detail and realism.

Now I get the sense that this is more of a limited series than the first of several seasons, and I personally am totally okay with that.

I mean, there’s a good sense of closure, even though the potential does exist for the story to continue on.

There are nine episodes with each of them right about an hour long. So it’s going to be a time commitment once you start binging.

And I say binging on purpose because I think once you start, you’re not going to be able to stop.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with Squid Game. The premise, while simple, is invigorating and thrilling, the characters elicit a good emotional response for us, thanks in part to charismatic leads and some really good development of the main character.

The suspense is executed well, and the violence of the show may be shocking, but it was engaging and it fit within the story context.

I do wish one of the story arcs would have been fleshed out more to dive into motivations, but on the whole, this was an exciting watch that had me continually looking forward to the next episode as the current one wrapped up.

There’s sex nudity, a lot of profanity, and an absolute ton of bloody and gory violence.

I am going to give Squid Game a B-plus.

Squid Game Review

 

So do you play games? What’s a favorite of yours. I’d love to know what you play in the comments below.

Guys thank you so much as always for reading the review of Squid GameTV Mini Series. See you next time.

Squid Game Trailer 

Check out the trailer of Squid Game Action Drama Mystery TV Mini Series.

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