The future is here, folks. No longer do we live in a world where all our films come from big-name studios like Disney and Universal and are put out into theaters like the big events that they used to be. Now Disney and Universal have some competition: streaming services. The big debate brewing in the world of cinematic discussion and punditry is whether this is ultimately good or bad for the future of cinema. And my answer is: we'll see. Who am I to say whether Netflix and Amazon aren't putting out some great content. Just last year, Amazon released ‘Manchester by the Sea (2016)’ and Netflix released ‘The Little Prince (2016)’. And this year is no different with Bong Joon-ho ’s ‘Okja (2017)’.
The film centers around a young “super-pig” named Okja that is raised by our protagonist, Mija (played wonderfully by newcomer Ahn Seo-hyun ), until she is ready to be taken to New York to be slaughtered along with the rest of the super-pigs. However, along with the help of Paul Dano and his organization, Mija might just be able to save Okja from Tilda Swinton and her dastardly plans. To begin with what I enjoyed about the film, just about all of the performances are great and somewhat subtle. Paul Dano is great as the supportive friend who you're just not sure about yet. Tilda Swinton sinks her teeth into this conflicted twist on the “evil CEO character”. The film looks gorgeous, full of panoramic shots of both Korean scenery and smooth-moving action and chase sequences. The visual effects of the super-pigs are extraordinary, especially for a creature so enormous and strange-looking.
Unfortunately, my biggest problem that I had with the film was it's tone. This film is a fairlylight drama about a girl searching for her lost friend who happens to be a giant pig-creature… at least that's what I went in thinking according to the marketing. And to be honest, after seeing it, I'm not quite sure if the filmmakers knew what kind of movie they were making themselves. There are some scenes that prove to be an animal lover’s worst nightmare; they really rely on the darkness of human commercialism in the film. However, some characters and scenes play as some very oddball, off-the-wall comedy. For example, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Tilda Swinton’s character’s “animal expert” and face of the company. However, he sometimes comes off as the equivalent of a stand-up comedian who is trying to be totally nuts on stage to get a few laughs. It does not seem he is in the right movie. He keeps this portrayal up even through his character’s heinous acts, and I didn't know how to feel (and not in a good way).
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Okja’. It was very moving, and ultimately thought-provoking. It's a film with a brilliant message that didn't get shoved in your face. I am going to give it a ‘6 out of 10’. Are you guys excited to see this film? What are your thoughts on the arrival of cinema from streaming services? Let us know in the comments below!