Netflix’s Okja – Does It Lives Up to the Hype?
I am not big on watching movies that is mainly focused on animals, unless those are really good movies. So naturally, this movie would not have been my first pick. However, because lately I have been hearing a lot of hype regarding this movie, Okja, I decided to give this movie a try.
This movie opens with Mirando Corporation, which is described as a shadowy, mysterious-like entity that specializes in genetically modified meat. The CEO of Mirando Corporation, Lucy Mirando is promoting their brand new found, talking bubbly and excitedly about their new breed of animal and the best super pig competition that they are going to carry out.
Mija is a young farm girl who’s living in the mountains with her grandfather and her beloved pet, Okja. Okja is a big pig that was sent by the Mirando Corporation to Mija and her grandfather. Mija loves spending time with her pet. She plays and spends all day with Okja; feeding her, having naps together, as she also looks for fish and fruits in the forest that could be cooked for dinner. Okja would follow Mija where she goes, sometimes even helping Mija when she needs it. Throughout the movie, this is actually the only part of the movie where I feel some kind of connection to the characters, at all. And all of these happens within the first few minutes of the movie.
I would have like this better if scenes that shows how close Mija and Okja actually is, is more spread out throughout the movie. Because these first few minutes – about Mija and Okja’s relationship – honestly do nothing to help to viewers feel and want to care for those characters when the movie is 2 hours long.
The acting is not impressive, but it is not bad, it was meh. Sometimes, when you watch a movie, there is a certain character (usually the main characters) that just sticks to you and make you feel and root for that character. But in this movie, I honestly was not able to feel anything towards Mija at all. I don’t exactly get anxious with her when Okja was taken from her, nor do I feel anything when watching her go through her journey in trying to get Okja back. And seeing that Mija is the main character of this movie, she is not doing that good of a job being one.
And eventually, a bunch of spokesperson from Mirando Corporation come to Mija’s house. They did a health check and a television report, declaring that Okja is the biggest and best super pig out there and hence making Okja the winner of the competition. They are also planning to ship Okja to New York City, to be used as advertising, which Mija has no idea to as her grandfather told her that he already bought Okja from Mirando Company. Mjia’s grandfather then tries to distract Mija from the fact that Okja was about to be taken away from her by making her go visit her parent’s grave, which she begrudgingly oblige to, just to find out what her grandfather has done.
I am just going to be blunt here, I have no idea who wrote the storyline to this movie, because it is a mess and it is all over the place. A lot of the time, they don’t really try to elaborate on things, like, on why Mija’s grandfather find it necessary to visit her parent’s grave for a distraction because that came out of nowhere at all and I just can’t find the correlation to the scene. He just suddenly ask Mija to go and leave his house to basically a bunch of strangers that is going to take Okja. Not only that, I also do not understand how a grandfather could be so cold and uncaring as to what his grand-daughter must be feeling? He make people taking Okja away seems like not a big deal, and even bought a gold pig bar for Mija to replace Okja.
When Mija finds out that her grandfather has been lying to her, she ran as fast as she can back home to try to stop them for taking Okja, only to find Okja already gone. Her grandfather told her that they will first be taking Okja to Seoul then to New York, and that there is nothing she can do about it. But Mija – feeling angry and betrayed – take her money that she has been saving in her piggy bank and set out to get Okja back home.
And Mija, a child, who I believe has never gone anywhere else far away by herself, just decides to take her piggy bank savings and managed to somehow get to Seoul from where she lives, is just mind boggling to me. Also the fact that her grandfather lets his only grand-daughter go to find her pet by herself, without even trying to find some way to get her grand-daughter back just shows how detached all these characters are from each other.
Once Mija got to Seoul and as she was trying to locate Okja in the big city, she happens to stumble onto ALF (Animal Liberation Front), which is a group that exposes corporations for animal cruelty. When ALF got the information that Okja is the best out of the 26 super pigs, they aim to protect it. Also knowing that Mirando Corporation has been lying and manipulating people about their cruelty free meat product, ALF is also set on trying to expose Lucy and her company’s secret to the world.
I feel like this movie is too rushed in trying to convey the message behind the story. I am grateful that this movie brings animal-rights issue into the spotlight. And it also make me realize that the cruelty in the meat factory is very much real, just because we don’t see and hear about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. However, as good as the idea and message behind this movie, they are too blunt in trying to deliver the message across that it eventually just come out preachy.
The ending of “Okja” also fell flat, I expect this movie to go out with a bang, but it is very mediocre in the way they end the movie. Moreover, the storyline is very predictable, I would have like a little more conflict in the movie, as this movie just seems like such a black and white movie. ALF is the good guys and Mirando Corporation is the bad guy. It would have been better, in my opinion, if there is more complexity between these two. But for the most part, I think it is a pretty honest representation of the food industry and animal rights. It definitely shed more light on the problem and bring in more awareness regarding this topic.