Is Squid Game Genius or Overrated?
I know I’m extremely late at this point talking about Netflix’s worldwide sensation, Squid Game, but if I’m going to be honest; I wasn’t even sure if I was going to watch. When I saw the trailer, it did interest me don’t get me wrong, but I knew blood and gore were in the mix. I did some research online to see how gruesome the show really was before making my decision to watch and all the articles basically assured me I was not going to be comfortable watching. I am just that much of a wimp guys. But my curiosity was still there and my husband really wanted to watch so I finally caved in. As soon as we finished the series, I definitely had my opinions and couldn’t wait to review. Now, this review is just my honest opinion and not to be taken harshly. I will also say I chose to watch the dub version and I think my opinion could differ if I understood Korean and was able to watch the original version. Therefore my opinion does have to be taken with a grain of salt because I feel the subbed and dubbed versions both take away from the original story. Disclaimer: This is a complete SPOILER review meant to raise questions on the show’s performance.
Unless you are never online, you have probably heard Squid Game has conquered Netflix becoming the #1 show among 90 different countries. The show’s writer and director worked on the story back in 2008 but was rejected multiple times before its release. With a show getting this much positive praise, I had to see for myself if Squid Game really was living up to the hype. In the spirit of Mi-nyeo saying “I’m good at everything except the things I can’t do”, we are going to first look at what Squid Game was able to accomplish and then where the show had its downfalls.
I’m Good at Everything..
I think we can all agree the trailer for Squid Game did its job in peaking everyone’s interest. My husband and I were on Netflix getting ready to continue our Flash marathon when the hit show popped up on the opening screen stopping us from scrolling down until we finished the small preview. We were definitely intrigued and I remember already hearing comments about the show on my social media. From the small preview, the first thing to completely catch my attention was the set design. Seeing those bright complementary colors including the costumes on the henchman instantly captured my eye. After watching the series, my biggest appreciation for the show went out to the show’s creative director, Chae Kyoung-sun. When I watch any new show or movie, I study the work of the set, the costumes, the cinematography, the score, and the writing before I even look into the actor’s performances. I like to evaluate the work done behind the scenes and what choices were made to bring the story to life.
Kyoung-sun in my opinion is a genius and did an outstanding job with creating the show’s look. Every choice and detail made had complete thought behind it from the color’s meanings to the giant playground pieces meant to make the players feel small like they were children again. I can definitely appreciate someone putting great thought behind any creative decisions made because there is much more to design then making something look “good”. Therefore I 100% was a fan of the costumes, set, cinematography, and everything that contributed to Squid Game’s look and feels with really no critiques to give.
Besides the incredible set design, I have to give it up for the actors involved. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hear the actor’s dialect and diction, but the facial expressions among all the characters helped sale the story for me. The protagonist, Gi-Hun’s performance was certainly a standout to me in how well he was able to capture every emotion he felt from beginning to end. I did feel the voice acting was not up to par and didn’t match well with how the actors were playing their part. There were many times where I felt like the voice didn’t match how the actor was really reacting. This is completely not on the main actors’ cast though as you can see how all really stepped into their role and made their moments. I can’t really choose too many characters over each other because I genuinely felt each played their role well and were memorable.
I do have my critiques about the writing and the story itself which I will get into later, but a positive highlight on the writing would be the use of themes; “the bigger picture” you might say. Squid Game has a traumatizing tone in that it makes you think about what society is, what debt is, and how far people are willing to go. Watching the show, you almost don’t know who to feel sorry for or is the true villain which adds to the show’s excitement because it puts you on your toes. I mean it sounds crazy to have a game where people end up dying or killing each other off to win tons of money while all being watched for the entertainment of others.
But how crazy is it really and how close to the things we see happening in real life?
That is the best thing about Squid Game really is how much it makes you think and how you can relate it to your own life or things you have seen. Squid Game takes what was once innocent but intensifies it into something so much more. Pretty amazing for a show to do, don’t you think?
Except the Things I Can’t Do…
Now I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t critique something and look at every detail. This show all in all is very well done and is definitely worth watching, but as far as its groundbreaking statues go, the storyline is questionable. While Squid Game did do its job in providing an entertaining, suspenseful show pulling at many’s heartstrings, I do feel the storyline was very predictable at times and not exactly a “new” kind of story. I really was waiting for them to do something more unexpected with either one of the characters or how the show ultimately ended. Sorry, but I don’t think the old man or front man’s reveal was too shocking. I think both reveals were sort of easy to predict. Maybe not to all, but I think there were enough clues added to allude to this ending.
On the topic of the show’s ending, I was a bit disappointed in making the protagonist the winner of the game. I personally think the writer should have taken the opportunity to change things up a bit with choosing a winner either by making two winners somehow or choosing an unexpected character. It’s not because Kang Sae-byeok was my favorite character, but I do think she deserved to win with or over Gi-hun. Her death was very saddening to me and it was the one time I was completely against Sang-Woo.
That’s right. I only felt completely against Sang-Woo once he had killed Sae-byeok. You might think I’m crazy for saying this considering how many scummy things Sang-Woo especially to our pour Ali, but the man had a point. Sang-Woo was playing to win which I felt was a much different approach to many of the others who were more playing to survive. There is a huge difference between playing to win versus playing to not lose so I can’t be mad at the man for staying focused on his goal. As a university man, he proved his wit by using logic and strategy to get closer to the end instead of fighting with his heart because, in the end, he was playing against multiple strangers who meant nothing to him. Not a likable character by any means, but I understood where he was coming from.
Now another thing I felt lacking or didn’t really come across to me was the relationship between these characters. I believe a big part of this could be watching the dub and relying on the voice-over’s acting to convey these relationships to me. However, to me, the only real connection I saw being built was between Gi-hun and the old man, II-nam. Therefore when betrayal happened or certain characters’ death, I wasn’t really feeling much behind them. For example with Ji-yeong’s death, her time with Sae-byeok was so short that I didn’t have much of an emotional reaction to her sacrificing herself. As much as we all loved Ali, I mean he barely knew Sang-Woo and shouldn’t really have trusted him. Call me heartless, but I didn’t get the reaction most did to these characters’ endings.
The last issue I had with the series is kind of hard because I don’t really have the solution on how this could have worked better. As I mentioned before, I don’t think there was enough time to develop each of the player’s relationships being built and I feel this was caused by how many subplots were being added into the story. First, it was with the doctor and some of the henchman being involved with harvesting organs and then with the detective who infiltrated the game looking for his brother. I’m not saying these storylines were bad, but it may be was too many things to focus on especially in the last episodes where the scenes shifted back and forth between the detective and the final players. Of course, this is where it gets difficult because we can’t really eliminate the detective storyline since it leaves us with more for a second season. So really this is my weakest critique and it might be as simple as me just not liking the way the scenes were played out. However, I would have enjoyed more time spent on the game itself and the players because I was missing more of their stories.
Even though I feel the story could have been a little more groundbreaking and changed up a bit, who I am kidding, the show definitely earned its positive reaction. Everyone who was a part of creating this show really did make a wonderful effort in giving the audience something to get excited about. I feel in general we have been lacking on new original content with all the remakes and reboots being released, so this was a nice change for entertainment.
Who deserved to win Squid Game? What do you think will happen in Season 2? Who was the real villain? Which is your favorite game and how far do you think you would have gone? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to like, share and subscribe to get notified of new posts. Be sure also to follow Bombshell on social media on Facebook (@bombshellgamingandstyle), Twitter (@bombgame_style), and Instagram (@bombshellgamingstyle) where you can also get notified of new posts or videos. Until next time my bombshells, Bye!