By Dave B.
Superficially, Okja (Netflix) is a story about a girl trying to rescue her super pig (kind of a gigantic, super intelligent pig/hippo/(dog?) hybrid) from an evil corporation. Since that’s all I knew about the movie before watching it, I was expecting a light-hearted, kid-friendly type of movie. Rarely have I been more wrong about anything. Okja isn’t light-hearted, isn’t kid-friendly, and is overtly political. Frankly, I loved it, but it required completely separating my political views from my appreciation of the entertainment.
Okja is a beautiful movie. I don’t just mean that the scenery is beautiful (although the verdant Korean mountainsides are gorgeous). The cinematography was masterful and the film contained some great CGI. If you have ever seen Snowpiercer (one of my favorite movies), you are familiar with the skill that director Bong Joon-ho brings to the table. It blows my mind that this movie wasn’t nominated for several Oscars, especially for Cinematography and Best Director. I’m not willing to say that Okja was the best movie that came out in 2017, but it certainly was shot better than anything else that I saw. Okja is well-written, well-acted, and mostly a lot of fun (except for some disturbing scenes of the abuse and slaughter of CGI-generated animals).
The main reason that I don’t think that Okja could have been the best movie of the year is it’s heavy-handed messaging. This movie was so lacking in subtlety that it’s anti-corporate, anti-GMO, pro-vegan message doesn’t even pretend to be anything other than political propaganda. And that is alright. I don’t personally agree with any of the positions that the movie espoused, but Okja made me think about them and I respect that. I just have a problem when movies assume that their audience is stupid and needs to be bludgeoned with the point instead of guided to it.
Okja is a great movie and I highly recommend it. However, if you are not a Socialist, if you are Pro-Science, and/or you are not passionate about animal rights, you’ll need the ability to check your views at the door and just appreciate the movie for the achievement that it is. Okja is unambiguously Netflix’s best movie and serves as proof that the company can make Oscar-caliber movies if it chooses to. 8/10