OKJA, just like the previous directors efforts of Snowpiercer and The Host, is a weird little fantastic film. I actually loved this movie a little bit and it is definitely Netflix’s best original movie that it has released yet (which is nice after that God awful War Machine film with Brad Pitt). If you haven’t seen Snowpiercer or The Host, I suggest you watch those films from director Bong Joon-Ho first before digging deep into this film. His films have a grand-smallish scale that brings a lot of weirdness but treats it as if it is absolutely serious. I can’t believe Okja isn’t being released in theaters, because it deserves to be, although I guess Netflix is changing everything about the game as we know it.
If there is one, no two reasons to not miss Okja, it is the peformances from Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaul. Swinton has two roles as the Mirando sisters, CEO’s of a giant company looking to solve world hunger but also hiding its dirty little secrets to get to that point. She plays the sisters as psychotic and socialistic with one having the personality of a much older grown woman and one with the personality of a teen that gets upset when she doesn’t get what she wants. And the performance is fantastic. Gyllenhaul’s performance might be a little turn off for some. He plays a zoologist and TV personality that is in league with the Mirando sisters. He plays it as if Ace Ventura and Brian Fellows (Tracy Morgan’s character on SNL) has sex and had a baby. It is an off the wall bonkers performance that I can’t decide if it was brilliant, annoying or both. Hearing him screech is a thing that needs to be heard at least once.
If you don’t know what this film is about look into trying to watch a trailer for it. Basically, a girl, with her grandfather, have been raising Okja since birth. Okja is a giant, giant pig animal experimentation hybrid that was made by the Mirando Corporation in ways to solve world hunger, by eating them when they grow up. How it is going to solve world hunger? I’ll let the movie explain that to you if you see it. Anyway, Okja is being used as a patsy to get the world hunger project from getting off the ground and is being brought to a giant parade celebrating the movement in New York City. The girl, named Mija, just loves Okja too much and wants her as a lifetime companion and goes to find Okja when she is taken away from her.
Then you of course have Animal Right Activists looking to free Okja while also exploiting the evils of the Mirando Corporation. And that gang is played by Paul Dano, Steven Yeun (Glenn on the Walking Dead), and Lily Collins. Their performances are all good, but they mostly play it straight and don’t go too off the book in regards to what they have done/played before. The movie itself acts like a giant chase film, with a couple of big action sequences, heartfelt revelations, and a couple of twists and turns.
To warn you, this movie is Not Rated on Netflix, but it would certainly be rated R if it were in theaters. This movie is not for kids. There are F words a plenty and we do go inside a meat killing floor facility at one point. There is also a scene where Okja is forced to breed later on down the road. But what I loved about the film is that the ending is bittersweet. You get what you expected but then there is that added layer that brings up so much more conflict, but in reality, a little girl couldn’t do everything for everyone.
But the movie was fun. It’s sweet, horrifying, heartfelt, heartbreaking, and just plain enjoyable. It also is a film that makes you think. And while some of the weirdness is a little absurd, it does make sense in that particular universe, and while weird, it is also very serious (you’ll see). Out of Bong-Joo Ho’s films I still like Snowpiercer better, but this is a very close second. I do like how he is making a hybrid of Japanese and American film atmospheres and techniques. Definitely better than the big budget epic action failure that The Great Wall tried to accomplish. If you have Netflix or know someone that has Netflix, it comes out tomorrow and I suggest checking it out. It is the best their original films have had to offer so far other than their TV shows.