Monday, October 2, 2017

Okja (2017)

Number Rolled: 54
Movie Name/Year: Okja (2017)
Tagline: None
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Length: 121 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Kate Street Picture Company, Lewis Pictures, Plan B Entertainment
Producer: Joon-ho Bong, Luca Borghese, Dooho Choi, Collin Creighton, Sarah Esberg, Pauline Fischer, Dede Gardner, Lewis Taewan Kim, Woosang Kim, Jeremy Kleiner, Sandro Kopp, Christina Oh, Brad Pitt, Ted Sarandos, Woo-sik Seo, Tilda Swinton, Stan Wlodkowski
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writer: Joon-ho Bong, Jon Ronson
Actors: Tilda Swinton, Giancarlo Esposito, Jake Gyllenhaal, Seo-Hyun Ahn, Jeong-eun Lee, Hee-Bong Byun, Jaein Kim, Je-mun Yun, Shirley Henderson, Woo-sik Choi, Steven Yeun, Paul Dano, Daniel Henshall, Lily Collins, Jihoon Park, Devon Bostick,
Stunt Doubles: Mei Han, Drew Reade, Rorelee Tio

Blurb from Netflix: A gentle giant and the girl who raised her are caught in the crossfire between animal activism, corporate greed and scientific ethics.

Selina’s Point of View:
So, the first thing I noticed is that Okja is not a kid’s film. June of this year was one of Cat’s months for the Top 20 article, so she did the research. I missed the TV-MA rating. Naturally, I thought I was settling in for a very Pete’s Dragon (2016) kind of film.

That was not what I got. Not at all.

What I did get was a very long, preachy film about vegetarianism.

Now, I don’t have any problem with vegetarians. That’s a personal choice and people are free to do whatever they want in that capacity. I begin to have problems with it when the choice is forced upon others.

This film felt like that was what it was trying to do. Force a perspective. It doesn’t even accomplish that well. It winds up making both sides of the argument look ridiculous and immoral.

Although the start of the film was decent, by the end I wasn’t even enjoying it anymore. I felt like someone was basically screaming in my face about the fact that I had a hamburger yesterday. They even drew a visual parallel between a slaughterhouse and concentration camps. I mean, the scene was something that could have been straight out of Escape from Sobibor (1987).

I don’t like being preached to. A film like this needs to offer debate, not a sermon. Someone is much more likely to change my mind about something with a logical and calm discussion, than a ridiculous display.

Okja was not for me.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve been fascinated with this movie since Netflix first started dropping teasers. Okja came in at #19 on my Top 20 Movies to Look Out For in June of 2017 – it was awarded low placement only due to the abundance of movies I was interested in that month. While I was already intrigued by the premise and the trailers, there were still so many question marks.

Now that I’ve seen it, I still think that Okja is ‘the cutest floppy-eared hippo-thing ever’ – though, I was surprised to learn that the title creature’s face was supposed to be modeled after a manatee. Go figure.

At first blush, I’d taken this movie for a family film; considering the child-animal relationship. Charlotte’s Web (1973) had a similar situation of a girl raising an animal she didn’t want to see killed for food, after all. Somehow I missed the TV-MA rating, because this definitely wasn’t for child consumption. There was some pretty heavy usage of the f-bomb; but aside from that, there were some fairly graphic scenarios involving the processing plant for the ‘super pigs.’

The underlying socio-political message in this film wasn’t subtle at all. It paints a giant bullseye on genetically modified food sources and the corporations behind them.

Let’s talk cast. Jake Gyllenhaal’s (Zodiac, End of Watch, Nocturnal Animals) character was absolutely nutters. He’s so gifted in altering himself to meld to his roles, it’s a bit freaky. I also really enjoyed the young lady who played Okja’s farm-girl, Mija. I’m curious to know how much of the action for Seo-Hyun Ahn’s (The Housemaid, Dream High, Monster) character she was able to do herself.

All told, this is a creature-feature with real heart, and I really enjoyed it. (I even managed not to cry!)

Speech Available: English, Italian, Spanish, French, German
Subtitles Available: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 85%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – 76/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.4/10
IMDB Score – 7.4/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

P.S.  There’s a scene after the credits.

Movie Trailer:

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