Squid Game (2021) miniseries review
Special thanks to quite a few people for suggesting this review!
Squid Game is a Netflix original series following a down on his luck man named Seong Gi-hun. One day he is given the opportunity to play children’s games with several hundred others all competing for a massive sum of money. The catch? If you fail the game, you die and the sum increases… The South Korean series was released on Netflix in late September and quickly became the single most watched series on Netflix. (Which is why we are just now talking about it of course…)
What’s not to like here? Squid Game is a fantastic blend of social commentary and character development set to a thrilling story that plays on how audiences consume media like this with an added layer of guild for occasionally getting way too invested in some of these games… So if you haven’t watched Squid Game yet, it isn’t perfect, but it does live up to the hype! (Also watch is subbed. It’s better.)
Now occasionally when you watch a film or series from a country of origin that is not your own, there can be some thematic divide in the way the film treats its characters and story. This is not always the case of course, and it actually helps propel many properties to be more compelling than they are! The latter is absolutely the case here. Of course most people can relate to the story here. No not playing games to the death! But answering the question: What would you do for money? Would you do more for more money? And this series really does not shy away from the pessimistic answers. This is apparently escalated even further in a culture where debt is a major issue. (Plus the exchange rate makes the prize seem just massive.)
Also if you want a show that will make you feel just most of the emotions- Squid Game really knows how to throw its punches. It’s fun, tense, exciting, dramatic- then when you aren’t expecting it, we get a few brilliant moments of despair and sadness that absolutely should come with a property like this. Picture the end of Battle Royale (2000), but stretch that feeling for an entire episode. Which by the way was not only the strongest episodes in the series, but one of the most impactful episodes of television that I have ever seen. Why? Because this show knows how to manipulate its audience in all the right ways.
Now while the story is as thorough as it is compelling, it does feel incomplete. (I’ll try to avoid spoilers of course.) The series spends a decent chunk of time on a subplot that dead-ends near the finale, which is fine if there is going to be a second season… Except this was supposed to be a miniseries right? RIGHT?!?
Now while most of the performances are just wonderful, there is a small group of characters who come in during the season who are- just the worst. Both the dialogue and the delivery of the dialogue completely nosedive for one shining half-episode and I don’t know why, because everyone else is great! Much of the cast is comprised of a lesser known if not totally unknown cast, and they all work just so well! Everyone from lead Lee Jung-jae to some of the supporting talent like Jung Hoyeon and Oh Yeong-su are all really great! The cast has a way of giving their performances depth so we feel like we know more about the characters before we even meet them, which I imagine is not easy.
I would love to talk about Squid Game some more. The score from Jung Jae il, the way this is shot and edited, how great the character writing is- but I think I’ve made the point clear. Squid Game is a genius blend of thrilling entertainment and smart social commentary that is so compelling that it almost gets a pass for the weaker moments in the story. I wish it stuck the landing a bit better, but hey, maybe there will be a season 2! For now though, it’s a worthwhile watch. 8/10.
So Squid Game? Did you finish it yet? What did you think? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, leave a like or a comment and tell us what we should talk about next! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince