Squid Game [Grade: B+]

Director: Dong-Hyuk Hwang

Story By: Dong-Hyuk Hwang

Cast: Lee Jung-Jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, Heo Sung-tae, Kim Joo-ryoung, Lee Byung-hun, Wi Ha-Joon, Yeong-su Oh, & Anupam Tripathi

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Yes! Yes! Yes! Let me tell you something, I am so glad that Parasite hit the scene and has opened this door in the U.S. for more Korean stories.  

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Below are my grades for key components in #SquidGame that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. 

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

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Theme: B

Plot & Story: A-

Pacing: A

Character Arc/Development: B

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Entertainment Factors

General Public: Interesting Enough

Creative Thriller Lovers: Worth the Watch

Caption Haters: Don’t Rush

Film Enthusiasts: Worth the Watch

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TAKEAWAYS:

1. First and foremost, Jung Ho-yeon is GORGEOUS! Just absolutely stunning! 😩🙌🏾🙌🏾

2. Also, Lee Byung-hun is bae! 😍😍

3. In terms of pacing, this series moves extremely well. Each episode ends with you wanting more due to its ability to weave in new layers to the story and overall game experience. 

Additionally, Lee Jung-Jae was the perfect character to help move the story with so much range of emotions and anxiety. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

4. Yeah…that Red Light, Green Light game… definitely the perfect start to the series. Bitch! like, WHAT!?😳😳👍🏾

5. The messaging with this story wasn’t as clear as I would have liked it, but it wasn’t terrible. Through Gi-Hun, I saw a man who struggled with making smart choices with money, and a fiend for gambling and competition. This addiction ultimately led to things around him falling apart. So by Act 3/episodes 7ish-9, I am expecting his new learning/understanding as it relates to money. A message centered around true happiness and fulfillment vs the high of money; and we do get this. 👍🏾

The issue for me is the final conversation that is had focused on humanity and goodness. It felt like such a stretch because although we get a sense of this through Gi-Hun, the connection I seemed to see is one that assumed he once lacked trust in humanity and goodness—which was never the case…at least not for his character. 🥴

6. Not he would change that man’s world for 5 minutes of satisfaction. 👀👀😩🥴

7. Episode 6… 🤭🤭🤭🙁

8. In terms of character arc and development, Sang-Woo steals the show. I mean his development was such a surprise, and so well executed. 👍🏾

Gi-hun’s development felt pretty static for most of the series until episodes 6, 8, and 9; and even then, it was like someone letting a pot of water boil to the point of overflowing, and then turning down the burner. His arc, however, was his strength which added to levels of anxiety I had as a viewer with each episode and game preparation. 👍🏾

9. That glass game… 👀👀👀😧But also, that final shatter shot was 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

10. The plot focuses on a caring man who, due to an addiction to gambling, has pretty much suffered consequences of various losses finds himself stuck in a cycle of valuable temptation coupled with life or death at luck’s and strategy’s whim. 

Episodes 1 and 2 do a great job setting viewers up with understanding Gi-hun and his conflict. We see this man as someone who maneuvers the world from a place of kindness, but is misguided by overly confident thrills and risks.

Episodes 2-5 allow us to really see Gi-Hun’s kindness take center stage when operating in a context that caters to his addiction both in day-to-day engagement as well as in his social circle. 

Episodes 6-9 turns the focus towards our character making decision between temptation or companionship—will more losses be suffered due to the cycle, and in what ways? 

Just well done. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

* * *

Overall #SquidGame gives Orange is the New Black – meets Hunger Games – meets Black Mirror’s 15 Million Merits Episode – meets Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. 

This is the second Korean cast production via Netflix that I’ve enjoyed (if you haven’t seen Space Sweepers, it’s also really good). Just a well done series. Period. 

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