Okja, from South Korean film veteran Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer) is an E.T.-like science fiction film that tears into the food industry, specifically the way we use and abuse animals.
The story revolves around a corporation’s attempts to introduce “Superpigs” – massive hippo-like creatures with small environmental footprints that taste “f***ing good” – into the food market.
To do this, Mirando – the company running the operation – sends sample Superpiglets to farmers around the globe to raise. The farmer who raises the biggest and best Superpig will be the hero of a the grand Superpig competition in America.
Okja includes a lot of really comic as well as dramatic moments. The negative portrayal of the industry in the film can get pretty intense at times, with disturbing depictions of concentration-camp like abattoirs. It can be hard to watch if you’re an animal lover. It’s not really a family movie despite the deceptive presence of large, loveable animal (brilliantly created in CGI), a young heroine, and no shortage of fart jokes.
Tilda Swinton delivers a two excellent performance as sister Lucy and Nancy Mirando and Paul Dano is charming as a British animal rights activist, Jay. Seo-Hyun Ahn is terrific as Mija, the superpig’s young human friend and protector.
Okja – which can be seen on Netflix from June 28 – is a great film: charming, funny, and very hard hitting.