Bruce Tetsuya’s review published on Letterboxd:
Disclaimer: this won't be my best review because I can't properly articulate all my thoughts on the 9 hours of media I just consumed in 2 days, and it's 2am haha. BUT, I'll try to hit everything major that mattered to me.
Shows like this only come around once in a blue moon. Clearly, Squid Game has taken the world by storm, already becoming Netflix's biggest show ever. While not wholly original, with pop culture phenomenons coming before it like Alice in Borderland (haven't actually seen yet), Battle Royale (masterpiece), Hunger Games (meh), Squid Game does actually manage to subvert many expectations / avoid the lame tropes of this sub-genre! The ending did feel a bit out of left field / unnecessary, but I can't lie... this was a blast to watch. I do have a bit of a problem with how they wrote off certain characters, as it felt like, in a way they were only there to die... but then, maybe that's the point... To show that in the grand scheme of things, not all of us are entitled to a great arc, or the outcome we all desire. And in a lot of ways, this show uses the meta-nature of spectatorship to make interesting suggestions about us, the audience. Are we much different than the "VIPs"? Those of us who binged the series in a week - are our morals also not to be in question? Some part of us, deep down, NEEDED to see what happened next. There is a morbid curiosity with series / films like this. We see sympathize with the characters, but also crave to see others fail. It's like reality TV - we all pick our favorites, and root for them. Do we not also see them as the "horses on a racetrack"?
I think the show peaked at Episode 6. Man, that was a pretty phenomenal episode of television. Not to say 7-9 weren't great in their own right, but I do feel like they dropped a lot of ideas which would have been worth keeping around. Other things about the show I loved though? Pretty much EVERY performance (except for the english dialogue actors omg, that was hilaaaaarious. I hope those portrayals were intentional, and even if it wasn't I'm going to pretend it was. Some of the worst dialogue / deliveries I've ever heard). But yeah, the main cast was fucking brilliant. Really liked a lot of the production design too. I can't say I loved the visual presentation of it 100% of the time, but when it's on, it's ON. That slow motion shot of the ***** exploding? Dude. Best shot of the show haha. Now, obviously, it's hinting at a second season, and... Hm, I don't know if it needs one! I always would rather have something end while it's still amazing, than have it continue, and retread the same stuff. But I get it, this show made INSANE money. And who knows, maybe they do actually have an amazing idea for the second season, and I can go into it pleasantly surprised! One thing is for sure: ANYTHING by this original team would be better than an English Remake. PLEASE god do not let that happen... All in all, this was such a great 9 episode stretch, and I'm so happy that yet another Asian-led piece of art is steamrolling the pop culture scene. LFG.