by Alex Chiles, who you can find wondering what the hell he just watched on Twitter @axchiles
One sentence review: Okja is a tonal mixed-message mess of an experience that is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and without a doubt, always weird.
Full review: Where do I even begin? Okja is… a lot of things. It’s a heartwarming fantasy about a girl and her pet. It’s a dark satire of corporate creed. It’s a quirky drama shining a light on animal cruelty and maybe oddly trying to say something about GMOs, but I’m not sure what exactly.
Okja is simply, a lot. And really, that’s its primary problem. It could sorely use some focus, because individual moments work well here, just not together. The extended scene at the beginning with Okja and young Mija is fascinating, set in a lush colorful environment, and it’s truly amazing how quickly my reaction went from “WTF is that CGI giant pig monster?” to a feeling of genuine heartwarming watching Okja interact with the young girl who has known her practically her whole life. The CGI here is top notch once you adjust to it, and Seo-hyeon Ahn (the young girl who plays Mija) manages to pull off sweet and gritty simultaneously, which is truly impressive. Also, the violence in this film shows its consequences, so it gets automatic points from me there. From there though… I just don’t know. The entire movie is laced with a weird quirkiness that really makes its messages struggle to hit home. It’s quirky when it’s being sweet, which works just fine, but using that same levity during serious scenes undercuts them into pointlessness.
Stacking that all together, the experience as a whole falls short, and gives me the feeling that maybe I’m experiencing a minor work from a good director. Sadly, this is the first Bong Joon Ho film I’ve seen, so I can’t confirm that feeling. Once I mentally recover from this one, I’ll maybe check out Snowpiercer next (also on Netflix, conveniently enough).
Also, I could’ve lived without not just one, but TWO super-pig shitting scenes. And that’s a sentence I never thought I’d ever write.
Should you watch this movie? Only if you are a fan of the weird or a Bong Joon Ho completionist (I know that’s gotta be a thing)
Where? It’s on Netflix, so that’s your only choice here.
Top 10 so far:
- Get Out
- Wonder Woman
- John Wick: Chapter 2
- Guardians in the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Kong: Skull Island