Okja: A Film Review

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There’s a fear among the people of the world. It started from our ever-growing population and the needs that comes with it. We started to ask: “how do we feed all of the people?” and “is there enough food in the world?”. Scientists stepped up and gave us food enhanced with the power of science.

Then we all started to question: “is this food safe?”, “does it harm the natural environment that it grows in?”, “does it have side effects?” and much more. Soon, we all wanted to eat naturally grown food again. But today, we’re not here to discuss the idea of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) but the movie that is based on a concept on that idea of consumption of GMOs.

Okja is a film that takes the idea of a GM pig and the story of a farm girl who hasn’t seen much outside of her own backyard (a huge one, btw!) and creates a bittersweet tale about the two and the trials they go through. Is it any good? Let’s dive in and find out.

Introduction

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Rating: 8/10. The charisma of Tilda Swinton’s character, Lucy Mirando and her almost showman-like presentation of the 10 year long plan for the super piglets would hook anyone in really quickly. It was almost like watching a commercial and it looked very interesting and quickly establishes her as the “corporate mastermind” of the consumerism-based message of our film yet makes you question whether she could be the villain at all.

Also, the introduction to our main character, Mija, and her super pig, Okja, was very heartwarming and nice. The simple and very calm forest and cinematography here was excellent in that it presents to you Mija’s background very quickly as a girl who lives in a well of sorts, never ever seeing much of the world unless through the television.

And both of these meld into a great opening for the film that gives you reason to keep watching.

 

Plot Development

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Rating: 2/10. But… sadly, it goes downhill from the intro. Although the film introduces more memorable characters along the way like Dr. Johnny Wilcox, the ALF (Animal Liberation Front) members as well as Lucy’s sister, Nancy, the show does not have a good plot to showcase each character well. The plot suffers from being a drawn-out commercial about the powerless trying to fight consumerism as I could interpret it and it fails in trying to tell a good story.

It tries to paint the corporations as the villains and they would do anything in their goal for profits, even at the cost of other people’s lives. But how many times have we gotten this? It’s stale at this point.

 

Character Development

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Rating: 7/10. For all the crap I gave the film for its plot, it does have some memorable characters.

Pros:

  • Jay and K, played by Paul Henshall and Steven Yeun: The 2 ALF members that were of any significance to the plot. K, in one scene later confesses he intentionally “mistranslated” Mija’s plea to return home with Mija for Jay so he could further the ALF’s cause. Jay, later returns the favor by beating K up violently even though the ALF abhors violence. In a short scene, we got a good dose of characterization for the two. Probably my fave scene in the film regarding the ALF.
  • Lucy and Nancy Mirando: Tilda Swinton really pulls off an excellent range of acting capability here. And staying true to her capitalist nature, Nancy allowing Mija to buy Okja for a solid gold statue of a pig instead of listening to Jay’s appeal about Okja is just icing on the cake and I love it, in an ironic way.

Cons:

  • Mija’s grandpa: Constantly pushed aside by Mija in her quest to save Okja hurt the film. Save Okja because she’s family, right? Then what about her grandpa??
  • The ALF: Wasted opportunity after wasted opportunity. Getting so many cool characters in the ALF force that appears in the film is very interesting but again, I desired to see more of the ALF and them combating the mistreatment of animals all over the world but they felt like lame hooligans later on, getting taken out by Black Chalk (Mirando’s elite security) and just disappeared. Urgh.

 

Overall: 5.5/10.

Yes, we get it. Consumerism is bad. Corporations are the worst. The message gets drilled into your head the moment the film enters the second act, after the introduction. The film also gives us memorable characters just to waste them away due to time constraints and fails to deliver a great story with those characters.

Not only that, the ending makes you wonder if anything was worth doing at all – as if the journey was but a small hill to climb for the evil Mirando corporation. Yes, Okja is saved but the rest of the super pigs are still doomed to die as food. It’s realistic in its presentation but learning that Mija and the ALF’s efforts were all just a tiny bump on the road to greater profits for the Mirando Corp made it feel a little too real. And I don’t think we should be fed this much realism in a fictional flick about oversized genetically modified pigs.

Till next time!

 

Sherman

Images taken from:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3967856/?ref_=ttmi_tt

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