For 10 idyllic years, young Mija (An Seo Hyun) has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja-a massive animal and an even bigger friend-at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when a family-owned multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where image obsessed and self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission, but her already daunting journey quickly becomes more complicated when she crosses paths with disparate groups of capitalists, demonstrators and consumers, each battling to control the fate of Okja…while all Mija wants to do is bring her friend home. Deftly blending genres, humor, poignancy and drama, Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host) begins with the gentlest of premises-the bond between man and animal-and ultimately creates a distinct and layered vision of the world that addresses the animal inside us all.
Does Joon-ho Bong slowly become the Korean version of M. Night Shyamalan and J.J. Abrams, rolled in one big fat packet of disappointment? After the mild letdown that was Snowpiercer here comes the total bummer. Okja is a fukn kiddies film, with the simplest of messages, terrible acting by a usually great and interesting cast and a waste of multimillions of production money.
Talking about the cast: Tilda Swinton is kinda infamous for mercilessly weird overacting so we forgive her extravagant play. Jake Gyllenhaal rather not. No clue what he was thinking when he interpreted the animal filmer Johnny Wilcox. But the result wasn’t pretty at all.
The rest of the cast did ok to very well. Nobody delivered an Oscar-worthy scene but they mostly carried their small and silly roles.
But the movie all in all was very uneven in its tone, looked often like improvised amateur theatre and couldn’t decide between comedy and morbid earnestness. What worked so fine in The Host was totally misplaced in Okja.
I have a hunch that the whole crew only noticed during the principal shooting what a miserable script they had to work with. So the decided in the last minute to turn this rather adult topic into a silly comedy for little kids. The result is neither here nor there and looks as bullshit as the screenplay.
But what angered me the most was the lack of finesse Joon-ho Bong put into directing this trainwreck. We expected more from this director wunderkind. But it appears as if he had given up during the process of making this movie.
That Okja was going to suck badly already became appearant in the first couple minutes of the almost 2 hours runtime. Observing a little Korean girl strolling through the dense jungle, playing with her super pig is not a good way to awaken the interest of any audience, neither kids nor grown-ups. And why this super pig Okja had to resemble a hippopotamus rather than a pig will probably always remain a riddle.
But it’s gotta be said: Seo-Hyun Ahn as Mija was the best actress in the movie. Her childish stubbornness in contrast to her Asian calmness was what made the movie at least a litle bit interesting. Great delivery by this only 13 years-old actress.
Apart from that the scenes with Mija in them were of not much consequence neither. She, like her pet, were just pushed around and used by the various interested groups. None of those two rebelled or tried to break out and change their fate.
For me the best character in the whole disastrous flick was the city of Toronto, Canada, this time standing in for New York and doing great. LOL.
What else can I say, what is there left to say? Nothing. Either hubby and me were in the wrong movie or the whole world around us has lost contact with reality. This was a disastrously bad flick, from the first second to the last. Not even a great cast, a big budget, Brad Pitt producing this shit, and a prodigy director couldn’t help. Maybe they made it even worse.
When I said the movie was uneven, it means it was not always slow and boring, but there were some exciting actions scenes as well. The wild hunt of the Korean police force after the vastly incompetent Animal Liberation Front and their CGI monster pig through Seoul’s metro stations was really nicely done and surely the most exciting part of this boring plonker. Unfortunately we didn’t see nearly enough of these mass action scenes with hundres of extras and stunt people. Anyway, Okja never reached the quality of the zombie scenes in Train to Busan, and it was much too sparsely sprinkled thoughout the movie.
CONCLUSION: You don’t expect me to write all the negative stuff again, do ya?
What the gooderer reviewers think about Okja:
Kermode “enjoyed it very much”. Hmm
Grace loved it too. WTF is wrong with people?
This guy as well!!! 😮 I give up. 😦