Okja Screen 74 of 22 reviews

Okja

2017

Okja Poster
  • The image confirms the obvious—that the eye of the six-ton Okja is as large as Mija’s face—but it also does something magical: it makes believe that Okja is real and that she and Mija are inseparable. We believe in Okja’s reality not only because An as Mija relates to her as if she is there, but also because of the extraordinary digital animation of that eye.

  • Mija and her grandfather’s domestic life is introduced in a series of gently comic scenes that take up nearly the entire first half-hour. Yet when the gears shift abruptly for a wild pig chase through a busy Seoul mall, our attention never wavers; we’re ready to dive right in to what has all of a sudden become an action movie. Soon Okja will veer into other, equally unforeseeable zones, all of which seem to make sense once you get there.

  • ...These two modes might seem incompatible, but as overseen by the great South Korean director Bong Joon-ho ("Snowpiercer," "The Host"), they mesh with such grace that the result is a work of melancholy enchantment, by turns sweet, raucously funny, scary and sad, and—in the manner of all good science fiction movies—thought-provoking.

  • The movie tirelessly wrestles with the idea that attacking capitalism’s symptoms will never destroy its source. But who or what, and where is the source? To question warrants the need to identify every space, every participant complicit in the capitalist structure... Though Okja delivers on this front, still the answer evades its ambitious grasp towards clarity. Even so, the film is Bong’s politically densest work thus far, refusing ideological compromise to think until it reaches a dead end.

  • Framed around the experiences of the fiercely un-precious Mija, who becomes a half-grown action hero, Okja unfolds like a fable about a child and their nonhuman pal that’s been warped into something bleak and outrageous — E.T. by way of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Mija pursues Okja with scowling conviction through foot chases, car chases, and paw chases that send the characters crashing thrillingly through a city mall.

  • Two of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen are from South Korean directors, including “Okja,” a pleasurably rambunctious, insistently political adventure from Bong Joon Ho. A sensational Tilda Swinton — leading with mad eyes and jutting teeth — stars as a corporate evildoer who tries to come between a fearless girl (a terrific An Seo Hyun) and her best friend, a genetically produced super-pig whom the baddies want to turn into meat.

  • A dystopian story about a genetically engineered beast with overt anti-capitalist connotations, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja represents a synthesis and an upgrade – in scale as well as quality – of the director’s previous outings The Host and Snowpiercer, confirming him as one of the finest contemporary craftsmen of intelligent, ambitious blockbusters.

  • The director has made his long-overdue first appearance in the main program, and with a picture that juggles genres, ideas, visual effects and politics with his characteristic aplomb. There will likely be no easy end to the debate over whether Netflix belongs in competition at Cannes, but there can be no doubt that Bong Joon-ho does.

  • Bong has clearly come a long way from the blackly playful disposal of sundry yappy apartment-block pooches in 2000’s Barking Dogs Never Bite... The bittersweet finale also flags up the challenges ahead in providing a harvest for the expanding world, so no platitudinous solutions here, just a movie that showcases Bong’s admirable flair for artfully unhinged spectacle, deftly undercut by a chastening reality check that never allows us to enjoy ourselves too much.

  • This is a gorgeously realized popcorn movie of the most satisfying, comforting, restorative kind: full as its heart is, it has a lot on its mind, yet you’d also quite like to curl up on its belly and doze in the sun.

  • If Okja’s American section is the weaker half of the film, it may be because Bong’s audacity gets the better of him. Okja herself becomes a metaphor for the film—big, smart, gentle-souled, and occasionally out of control... When Okja works, it evokes a sense of genuine wonder. For all its brilliant mayhem, the movie’s bookending idylls may well be what endure in memory.

  • There’s a darkness to Bong’s vision that sometimes seems like it’s being reined in — even here, and even as the movie drips with clever cynicism. The movie is enjoyable, but part of me wishes it had really _gone there_ — I mean, why not? Okja didn’t have to withstand the vindictive malingering of Harvey Weinstein, as Snowpiercer did. You watch with some confidence that the movie is Bong’s. That doesn’t promise a richer vision, but maybe it shouldn’t have to.

  • A choppy mix of anti-corporate farce and Spielbergian fantasy, Bong Joon-Ho’s bilingual Okja veers wildly, but never stalls; if Bong, the South Korean writer-director behind The Host, Memories Of Murder, and Snowpiercer, never squares the film’s satirical means with its sentimental ends, he at least throws the weight of his considerable filmmaking talent behind both.

  • Even though the human-animal relationship is hastily sketched, [Ahn's] piercing eyes and surfeit of plucky determination act as a constant reminder of the 10 unseen years this unlikely duo have spent together. Okja is a good film rather than a great one, perhaps lacking the element of surprise that made Snowpiercer such a dream.

  • How can Okja be anything other than a symptom of the artificial worldview it loudly decries? Bong wants us to save the superpigs inside a neatly framed reality that is overdetermined to its very last pixel. Even the filmmakers seem to recognize this. In a post-credits sequence, the Animal Liberation Front returns for a reprise, promising to go beyond the plot of Okja and its cute CGI Eeyores, to take the fight to the actual streets. It's the beginning of a film I'd have liked to see instead.

  • A transporting protest fantasy becomes another shrill dust-up in the waging of the culture wars.

  • Granted, that's some pig, but I'm not sure Charlotte's Web would have worked nearly as well had Fern's love for Wilbur been employed in the service of a broader, angrier anti-bacon tract. Started squinting when it became clear that we're meant to ignore the Animal Liberation Front's resemblance to the Army of the Twelve Monkeys and consider them genuine if clumsy heroes; progressed to wincing when the film arrives at a finale that begs for Liam Neeson wailing "I could have saved more."

  • There’s a lot to chew on here, but in the end, I wish Okja simply worked better as a movie. Its first half is truly breathtaking, with Bong balancing offbeat characterizations and savage satire with slick, go-for-broke action scenes. One early truck chase in particular is unforgettable. Ultimately, the director can’t quite keep all these balls in the air. Some performances descend into irritating shtick, especially that of Jake Gyllenhaal, acting like he lost a bet with Swinton.

  • Bong has proven capable of uniting a variety of different tonal ambitions with some razor-sharp satire and impeccable craftsmanship, but Okja feels jarringly disorganized and rudderless for much of its runtime... Bong's filmmaking is so singularly impressive that even at its most derivative, Okja feels like a momentous spectacle, but it's the first film of his ever to give the impression that the spectacle is masking an otherwise underdeveloped, often incoherent, concept.

  • The movie is fun, if sometimes over-egged, as an adventure romp, but flounders in overstatement when it comes to satirical intent. It could be called either audacious or misjudged when the final act takes us to a factory farm for giant pigs, where the film startlingly turns into something between My Neighbor Totoro and Le Sang des Bêtes.

  • The shift from broad satire to grim brutality, especially towards the end, feels queasy, almost manipulative, threatening to collapse the film's already-fragile framework. That’s not to say that Okja is completely wrongheaded; it's clearly impassioned in its convictions, and for good reason. But flat observations earnestly told do not a good film make. Earnestness gives way to cynicism, depth of feeling to rote observation.

  • Bong's style is broad and exaggerated, often garishly so. His comedy is often lacerating, and he hop-scotches among genres and moods in a single film... This is one of those films where we're persuaded to love the creature in question, only to see it abused so the filmmaker can drive home his points. It invites viewers to cheer the bad guys and feel superior for doing so. Yet it's a film that, behind its veneer of winsome adorableness, seems to express contempt for just about everyone.

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