Film, Action and adventure
3 out of 5 stars
1 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)

A little girl and her giant pig go on the run from greedy businessmen in this underwhelming kids' adventure movie

Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho's 'Okja' is a globalised caper comedy with a conscience buried somewhere among all its silliness. In the film's sights are GM food production and the poor treatment of animals, and at its heart is a cute, often winning relationship between an oversized pig and a Korean girl called Mija (An Seo Hyun). Call it a wacky kids' film with a message (one delivered in a script co-written with Jon Ronson), and it's just fine.

But there's too much ripe language and violence for this to work for most kids, and less forgiving audiences are likely to find that 'Snowpiercer' and 'The Host' director Bong's fondness for slapstick and caricature cancels out much of its serious purpose. Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal's performances as corporate baddies set on turning giant pigs into lucrative bacon are much less fun than they should be: Gyllenhaal's turn as a narcissistic, crazed animal expert is especially over-ripe and grating.

Put aside the pantomime approach to depicting the Mirando Corporation – a nasty food multinational with extravagant CEO Lucy Mirando (Swinton) at its head – and it's easier to enjoy the warm connection between Okja and little Mija. Okja is the result of Mirando's plan to raise 27 super-sized piglets and increase her company's food-production game. She's being raised in a remote Korean forest by Mija and her grandfather, until Mirando's crazy animal guru Dr Wilcox (Gyllenhaal) appears to whip her off to the US. What follows is a chase through Seoul and a climax in an American abattoir that briefly swerves the film from 'ET' territory to something closer to 'Schindler's List'.

The creature effects are charming: Okja herself sits just on the right side of cute, and the sight of a whole load of Okjas waiting for the chop has some power to it. Visually, this is a classy affair: Darius Khondji's photography enhances rural and urban locations alike. But the pig-chasing antics and cartoonish corporate nastiness that dominate much of the film become seriously grating. Proceed with cochon.

Release details

Release date:
Wednesday June 28 2017
118 mins

Cast and crew

Bong Joon-Ho
Tilda Swinton
Paul Dano
Jake Gyllenhaal
An Seo Hyun

Average User Rating

1.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Every now and then, a film comes along that gives me such a strong visceral reaction I’m surprised I can bring myself to write about it. Okja is such a film. I absolutely hated it and took it as a personal slight that I gave so many minutes of my life to it.

A great concept is something that I’ve never seen before and to be fair, that’s a box that this film ticks. It’s also got a stellar cast and a very cute lead ‘animal character’ but that’s where the positives end for me for this film. At two hours long, it feels like double. It’s dull and within the script, there’s not a single character who I cared about. It doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be and the result is that it isn’t anything even vaguely cohesive or interesting.

Actors of the calibre of Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano not only deserve better than this, I’m actually surprised they thought it was worthy of their time. It’s a little bit action, a little bit family, a little bit emotional and a whole lot of pointless tosh. Please, spare yourself the same eye-rolling, hair-tearing, fingernail-clawing experience I had and avoid at all costs.


I couldn't get into this movie and I didn't finish it- or I fell asleep. Not quite for me.