Okja (2017)

I had no idea there were gonna be so many celebrities in this one! Even Moaning Myrtle and that baseball dude from Train to Busan! Netflix is rich. Well, I’m a fan of Tilda Swinton. And Jake Gyllenhaal. And Steven Yeun. Hence, this movie was on my to-watch list on Netflix ever since I saw its trailer on Youtube. I’m pretty sure I delayed watching it for so long because from what I saw in the trailer, this movie looked really… predictable. Just about a kid and an animal friend, again. And I won’t deny, it was predictable! But that’s not important, because what really mattered the most in this film, what made it really stand out from the rest in this genre, was the heartwarming on-screen chemistry between Okja and Mija (played by Ahn Seo Hyun).

Dude, I believed in that friendship! Mija and her love for her genetically modified pig friend, I totally bought it. Shame on me that I thought Okja was going to be similar to Pete’s Dragon, heartwarming and nothing else. Just a touching flick to make kids go “awwwww”. But Okja was so much more. Every character, even the cameos, devoted themselves sincerely to their roles, making everything super convincing. I’ll warn all you uptight parents out there that there is a rape scene in this film, but you’d mostly just hear the screaming, you don’t actually see the entire rape scene (just snippets of it on surveillance-camera-quality footage). Along with that, a lot of “fucks” were mentioned too. And that is why Okja might not be suitable for very young kids, if you cared about all that I just listed (see image below for a fine example).

Screenshot (185)

At the start of the movie, I was still trying to get used to looking at Okja. I’m not sure if it was because of the lighting, or her super glossy eyes, but Okja looked as if she didn’t belong to the scene. She looked a little like she was pasted there. And I get very distracted when I watch films with CGI like that (ahem, Wonder Woman).

Screenshot (184)

Looks a little strange, no? But I stopped noticing that after a while, once I got used to it. Or maybe the CGI work done on her got much better along the way. It’s all good.

A gentle giant and the girl who raised her are caught in the crossfire between animal activism, corporate greed and scientific ethics. (Summary by Netflix)

There were some comedic moments in Okja where I laughed so hard, and some scenes with breathtaking landscapes where I had to hit the pause button just to admire it, and then some very dark scenes that left me affected up till the end. There was also not a single segment of the film where its tone/mood stagnated, it was constantly evolving and that was what made the film very different from what I expected. The plot is predictable, but the screenplay isn’t. And the cinematography is amazing!

Screenshot (186)

Beautiful, ey?

So I hope you’ll enjoy Okja! I might actually add this to my Netflix list. You might like Okja if you enjoy movies with vigilante themes, movies with awkward humour (like Napoleon Dynamite and some Wes Anderson films), or if you like children and animals, you might enjoy this one too! I would say this movie is a little bit like Pete’s Dragon meets Food, Inc., meets Hanna. Gosh I do hope my examples get better in time as I watch more movies.

 

More Information on Okja

Trailer: Yep, I think the trailer is spoiler-safe although I don’t think it did a good job at convincing me to go watch it. I think this featurette is much, much better.
Rating: PG13 (rape, vulgarities)
Would Rewatch: Only if the occasion requires me to do so.
Enjoyable: Yes
Good Film: Yes