Finally I got a chance to sit down and watch the Netflix original Okja. If you read my previous review of The Host you would know that this was a highly anticipated film for me. As far as I am concerned this director can pretty much do no wrong. Don’t believe me? Just mosey on down to Rotten Tomatoes, type up Bong Joon-ho in the search bar, and you will be amazed by both the critical/audience receptions his movies have gotten thus far. It’s even that much more amazing once you realize he didn’t just direct many of them, he also wrote them too! 😮 This guy is the real deal and he still has a bright future ahead of him so take notice.
Which brings me to this movie. Was it any good? Did it live up to the hype?…Fortunately, I’m happy to say that it’s yet another solid entry into his filmography. I don’t think it’s his best work to date but I would say it’s up there for sure. Much like with his previous films, what you get here is a story with a solid focus on character development and a solid mix of humor thrown in. Things that I typically find myself gravitating towards the most which is why I’m sure that I love so much of his work. 🙂 Here though he has added another layer of intrigue for me as he has remarkably managed to make a monster movie where the monster isn’t the “bad guy.” Nope, instead it’s the people themselves.
For you see, in this movie you basically have two factions that are at odds with one another. The Mirando Corporation and ALF(the Animal Liberation Front). One’s goal is to mass produce a type of “superpig,” which Okja herself is, so that they can sell them off as a food source for all of us to eat. O__O Meanwhile the other, ALF, isn’t so keen on letting that happen. And while your first instinct might be to think the the movie would be heavy-handedly in the favor of the “environmentalists,” I have to let you know that you wouldn’t exactly be right. That is because of the type of things we get to see as the movie unfolds, mostly through the eyes of a young farmgirl by the name of Mija. Who plays a pretty substantial part here as she carries most of this movie on her little shoulders.
Now I do need to address something before I go further. That is that this movie is labeled as an action-adventure film but it’s not really all that action-y. At most there is like one really good chase sequence with some carfuffles along the way. Really it just feels more intense than what it actually is because the stakes feel real. And they feel real because you deeply care about the relationship between Mija and Okja. That is by far the biggest attribute of this movie. It takes it’s time early on to build it up and you can’t help but fall for the adorable dynamic the two share. It’s like a bond between a girl and a puppy. Except in this case the puppy is an over-sized “superpig.” I swear at points the two of them brought back memories of Clifford the Big Red Dog for me. Don’t know if you are familar with that cartoon but these two reminded me so much of Emily and Clifford. lol All things that made me invested so that when the two did get seperated I rooted for Mija to find away to overcome everything.
Then as the film gets going things do start to become more dark and we get some commentary on big issues like the negative sides of corporatism. While at the same time seeing some of the hypocrisy in a group like ALF. It makes you realize that both sides could have merits to their beliefs….but unfortunately they can get blinded and overtaken by certain individuals who don’t go about things in a good way.. Both sides are willing to lie and that’s the real problem. So as you can see there is a lot of good stuff here to sink your teeth into but like with everything there has got to be some negatives too right?
The two that I can think of here is that the comedy can get a little over the top at times and so can some of the performances. I have to admit that these things did cause some awkward tonal shifts but by enlarge the comedy did work for me. Mostly I think it’s some of the grandiose performances by the villains that might rub some people the wrong way. For example, Jake Gyllenhaal’s character Dr. Johnny. I have already been seeing some criticisms on his take of the character. All I can say is that it only bothered me at some points. Overall it wasn’t such a big deal for me because I was able to understand the character motivations. Sure some played it up a bit much but I thought the actions themselves made sense and I could see real people nowadays making similar decisions.
So to close this out I say definitely give this a watch if you are a fan of Bong Joon-ho. If you are not, well you can still give it a watch because I think the positives out weigh the negatives and I think you will at least love Okja and Mija. Plus this is a star studded cast so it may be fun to see if you can pick everyone out. I give it an 8.0/10. Until next time. For now let me know if you plan on watching or skipping this one. ^_^