Release Date: 17/09/2021

Platform: Netflix

Cast: Lee Jung-jae ,Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-Joon, Jung Hoyeon, Oh Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae

Creator: Hwang Dong-Hyuk

Squid Game is the new Netflix sensation that the company is promoting as the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Soon they would be calling it the reappearance of the original Vedic texts with new footnotes or unearthing of a version of the Islamic holy text written in colloquial English language.

There was even news of a Korean Broadband company suing Netflix for the astronomical rise in its internet traffic because of how crazy people were going in their bid to somehow watch “Squid Game”. If these people failed to do so, they might just lose their last chance of getting their hands on the Holy Grail or miss the chance to find the location of the ambrosia that emanated as a result of the churning of the ocean as per Sanatan history.

While Netflix’s aggressive marketing of a well-made series seems to be working great and bringing in crowds in hordes, it has to be agreed that the series is at best “good” and doesn’t even beat some of Netflix’s existing content like Alice in Borderland in terms of quality or entertainment quotient.

Here are some of the issues with the series.

Dialogs between characters that test the limits of your patience:

I did have a good time with the series but I have to agree that I did feel like fast-forwarding through some of the dialogues and interpersonal drama when I watched the series for the first time.

While these dialogues between the characters gave us a peek into their respective moral compasses and characteristics, they kept getting dragged to the extent that made me restless and bored.

There were certain exchanges like the one between the protagonist, Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) and Kang Sae-byeok (Jung Hoyeon) that felt out of place. The emotional and dramatic payload behind the exchange lost its merit due to the writing.

In this sequence, the latter convinces Gi-hun to not murder his friend and the only other surviving player, Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo) when she had absolutely no motivation to do so.

On the contrary, she should have felt the very opposite for Cho Sang-woo who had pushed a man to his death in the recently concluded game. Thus the sequence felt melodramatic and to an extent silly.

The character of Oh Il-nam and the mystery surrounding it 

While most people are going gaga about the character of Oh Il-nam (Oh Yeong-su) and how the twist involving the character was out of the world, I cannot help but be “meh” about it all. From the very beginning of the series, it was made perfectly clear that there was something special about the character.

The guns never locked on him during the game of Red Light Green Light. After watching that many people massacred, Oh Il-nam still moved like a pro with a smile on his face and literally danced to a halt before some more people were shot. This should have been enough to convey that he was in no threat of dying.

When the cop, hot on the trails of the organizers of the game browses through the details of the players of the current game, there is no detail of player 001 which was Oh Il-nam. The only time when he was in a semblance of danger was when after lights out, the players attacked each other in the dormitory.

In that sequence, he was nowhere to be seen until he cried out for help and the management immediately intervened and stopped the bloodshed. Even in the sequence where he is allegedly killed, we never get to see him getting shot or his dead body for that matter. Thus to call his re-appearance shocking was something that I couldn’t accept.

To add to that, I found every sequence where Oh Yeong-su was the center of attention to be excruciatingly slow and boring.

Too simple games that lost its novelty through the course of the series

Every game in the series is meant to be played between kids and hence to call them too simple is a bit harsh but what I felt was that as the series progressed the simplistic nature of the games robbed them of having any substantial impact in terms of thrills derived from the complexity of execution.

This is something that I loved about Alice in Borderland. Every game in that series provides fresh thrills and challenges of execution. While the humans involved and their unpredictable action resulted in some thrilling moments but as the number of participants reduced so did the thrill and fun of the games.

Red Light Green Light was the best-envisioned game and it was so shocking not only because of what was the result of missing out on the rules and restrictions of the game but because of how many people were massacred and how. The marble game would have been a boring mess had it not been edited so well.

The editing allowed us to see at least 4 different players win in four totally different ways. Sacrifice, deceit, friendship, and luck. The last game was nothing more than a one-on-one fistfight that we have seen 1000 times before and was hardly worthy to be the finale.

The unnecessary subplots 

 The series has at least one unnecessary subplot that it could have easily done away with as in the end, it didn’t have any bearing or impact on how the series culminated. If the makers are planning to make another season where that particular subplot and the characters involved in it will make more sense and impact then that is a different story altogether.

But as far as this season is concerned, the subplot involving the organ trade made little sense to exist for me. Some of the backstories of the characters involved in the series are given so much time that they become their own subplots. This seriously hampered the pacing of the series.

Disappointing culmination

For a series that began with so much promise and flair, it ended being just another one of the “Eat the rich” content where evil rich people kill helpless, poor and simple people for fun and entertainment.

This is an old and tested socialistic bleak vision of a capitalistic future that has been done to death and has lost its relevance in today’s time. The makers could have easily thought of something better and unique to compliment all that was good about this series.

Final thoughts

I liked a lot of things about the series. The performances, the cinematography, the visual flair and execution, the editing contributed to the mounting tension in many sequences, and also how well envisioned it was. However, due to some of the factors that I have mentioned before, the series couldn’t reach its true potential.

I just hope that the makers understand its true value, now that it is a global phenomenon, and try to iron out the issues in the forthcoming seasons.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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