Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits — with deadly high stakes.
Runtime: 1 Season
Starring: Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-jun, Oh Young-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, Heo Sung-tae, Kim Joo-ryoung, Tripathi Anupam, You Seong-joo, Lee You-mi
Information Page: https://www.newonnetflix.info/info/81040344
Netflix’s recent thriller series “Squid Game” seems to be taking the world by storm – if social media is anything to go by. The series is currently number 1 in the UK and many other countries including the USA, Canada and Australia. So this week I’ve binge-watched the series in order to see if it’s worthy of its global domination. I’ll be honest, that’s a lie – as soon as I saw the trailer for the show it intrigued me and I added it to my My List. I had every intention of watching it but it was my son who spurred me on to watch it this week. He doesn’t usually watch non-English films or TV shows – not for xenophobic reasons, but because he’s autistic and he finds it difficult to focus on the subtitles at the same time as watching what’s happening on the screen. He also won’t do dubbed because the out-of-sync lip movements is too off-putting. But he wanted to watch it and, because of TikTok being full of spoilers, we decided to do it sooner rather than later.
So, what’s it all about then? Set in Korea, the series opens with Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) – a divorced dad whose gambling addiction repeatedly gets in the way of him seeing his estranged daughter. We also learn that it’s his daughter’s birthday and his mother has to remind him to get her a present. If only he could get a huge gambling win, then he could get himself out the of the financial mess that he’s got himself and his mother into. A chance meeting at the train station sees Gi-hun playing a game with a stranger in order to win money and, after another string of bad luck, he finally wins – but it’s not much. The stranger offers him a lifeline, a chance to win enough money to overcome his troubles, and he is given a business card with a triangle, circle and square on one side and a phone number on the reverse. Things continue to worsen and Gi-hun calls the number…
It’s not long until we see Gi-hun again – this time in a large dorm with hundreds of other people in matching teal tracksuits. Each one numbered from 001 to 456. We very quickly learn that everyone here is in financial difficulty and that they can choose to play a series of games in order to win enough money to turn their lives around. The winner will keep it all, but if you lose you’ll be eliminated from the games. Happy with the chance to pay off their crippling debts, all 456 ‘players’ sign their contracts and the games begin.
This is where we see the scale of the sets used in “Squid Game” and they do look great. Any game arena with 456 players needs to be big and that scale is definitely seen by the viewer – even on the small screen. The colours are vibrant – a direct contrast of the dark themes of crippling debt and failure. And once the players realise that losing means literally being eliminated, the tension quickly builds up.
Let’s be honest, this is not the first ‘survival game’ to make it into a film or TV series but there’s enough going on from the outset that it made me want to stick with it. It’s tense and thrilling, there are some great special effects and the kill count is suitably high. Even after just one episode you already feel for the main character and its this personal element that drives the series through its 9 episodes.
I can’t really go much more into the storyline without heading into spoiler territory but it’s safe for me to say that there are six games in total and they are all based on childhood games. Some of the games are explicitly Korean but many will be familiar to an international audience too. We also learn about a number of the key characters in the series and their developing stories are incredibly gripping and incredibly human. The series is so much more than ‘just another survival game’ and it is the character development that really stands out.
There are a few times throughout the series where you can guess what is going to happen but there are enough twists, turns and developments to keep it interesting and to keep you on your toes.
The overall look and feel of “Squid Game” is one of the things that stands out. Put simply, it looks great and it is clear that a lot of effort went into the visuals of the series. The writing is great and the cast are incredibly talented and play their roles to perfection.
Overall I really enjoyed the series and it comes highly recommended.
Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!