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Review: Okja

An Seo Hyun stars in Netflix's OKJA

In continuing there move into providing their own exclusive entertainment to the masses, Netflix is using Okja as its next step in that direction. Not only is Okja another sign of their ambitious move to further their overall development, but it proves that they’re also willing to offer the kinds of cinematic experiences that we’re not used to seeing from other major studios. For many of us, this is important as repetition becomes a common aspect of film.

With a family-owned multinational conglomerate ran by Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) out to bring her beloved super pig to New York to complete a contest that was started ten years earlier, Mija (An Seo Hyun) must find a way to prevent it from happening. She doesn’t have a plan, but she’s determined to stop it at any cost. That much is simple, but things get more and more complicated as she finds herself thrusts in the middle of animal activism, corporate greed and questionable ethics of those with their own interest in mind.

Okja has so much going on that you may believe that it’s going to lose control of itself and become engulfed in the kind of firestorm that can’t be contained. While that appeared to be a strong possibility, they made sure that this didn’t occur and everything works in a way where it all balances out and is easy to follow. With something like this, that’s an insanely difficult task that some people just can’t pull off.

That alone if something that can be commended when talking about Okja, but that’s not all it has to offer. No, you also have to include the actors here as being a vital part of the film’s success. What looked to be the kind of movie that focused primarily on the young lead morphs into something that allows just about all of the significant characters to find their own bit of relevance even if only for a few moments in some instances.

The players that we’re introduced to work in unison with all that’s happening to create something that seems faster than its actual run time of nearly two hours. After a slow start where we meet Okja and Mija for the first time, things take off and never truly settle down. As we jump from place to place and character to character our attention is locked on to the screen. In my opinion, this is how films should be made as far as pacing and structure is concerned even when so much is happening.

In Okja, Bong Joon Ho has created an imaginative film that’s well told and delivers much of what you might be hoping for. What he does here is unusual not just because of the story, but also because he built something that has directly contrasting styles with Snowpiercer, his previous film that came before it. This isn’t something that we’re used to seeing from filmmakers as many of them find what they’re good at and remain there for the remainder of their careers.

I guess there are similarities in terms of Okja‘s attempts to comment on specific sections of our society while also remaining somewhat mature in terms of what’s being shown. But, it’s also a feature film that stands on its own with its light tone and the high comedic energy that assists in providing pleasing thrills throughout. Because of this, we have something that is fresh and unique in a world that gives us much of what we’ve already seen before. That’s great, but this actually being well put together makes it even more entertaining.

Rating: TV-MA

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Cast:
An Seo Hyun
Tilda Swinton
Paul Dano
Giancarlo Esposito
Jake Gyllenhaal
Steven Yeun
Devon Bostick
Lily Collins
Daniel Henshall

Film Length: 121 minutes

Release Date: June 28, 2017

Distributor: Netflix

  • Score - 7/10
    7/10
7/10
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