Okja (2017)

Okja Movie Review

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Okja Movie Review

Okja is a 2017 action-adventure film directed by Bong Joon-ho and starring Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal. It is a major disappointment.

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She is making us full in love with a creature

that we are already looking forward to eating

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Okja Movie Review

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Yes, this is one of the most disappointing films of the year for sure as it just left me unsatisfied and my expectations were way too high for it. I absolutely loved its premise and the film had great potential, but it squandered it all on a very uneven film that suffers from lost identity.

Yes, the fact that Okja is a South Korean-American co-production really speaks a lot as it tries to include both of the country’s sensibilities leading to a giant mess. Tonally speaking, this movie is all over the place and it was definitely too silly for me and the humor is mostly annoying.

I loved the first act and the ending had its moments, but the entire middle part ruined it for me as it focused on all the wrong elements such as the food industry and those very annoying cartoony characters.

Mija is fine and the only good character in Okja. Lucy Mirando is too cartoony, but admittedly Tilda Swinton did a good job in the role per usual. Others are all forgettable with the exception of Jake Gyllenhaal who is memorable but in a bad way. I am sorry to say this but this is the first time that I honestly really disliked Jake in a film as his performance is ridiculous as is his character.

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Okja Movie Review

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Bong Joon-ho’s direction is also problematic as he wanted to include too many things here but failed miserably. I honestly found its message admirable, but its delivery had the subtlety of an earthquake. Honestly, any kid’s flick would be like this and maybe even better. That is how on-the-nose Okja is.

I loved the imagery, especially in the first act. Korean’s forests are simply beautiful and I really admired those landscapes as well as the pig’s design and effects, very well done. The film is definitely a visual feast for the eyes and it’s a shame that it was wasted on such a problematic script.

Okja is one of the most disappointing films of the year as it let me down significantly. Its premise had potential, the film is visually magnificent and it does have a good beginning and ending, but the entire middle part is frustratingly uneven, the film’s characters are ridiculously cartoony, the tone is just all over the place and the message is delivered in the most unsubtle manner possible. Such a frustrating movie.

My Rating – 3

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The Host (2006)

The Host Movie Review

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The Host Movie Review

The Host is a 2006 South Korean horror film directed by Bong Joon-ho and starring Song Kang-ho. It is a competent, yet somewhat overrated horror flick.

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You are dimwits, right to the end.

I’ll see you in hell

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The Host Movie Review

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So basically the film is about an aquatic mutagen monster that starts attacking humans and not only killing them, but also spreading a virus that affects humans. The protagonist needs to save his daughter that was dragged into the sewers by the creature. That is the plot here and it’s definitely your typical monster flick, but done surprisingly well, I gotta admit.

It is competent in its action and effects. Yes, the creature isn’t great looking for today’s audience, but back in 2006 it was definitely terrific. The action is very well executed and every attack is well filmed and I really liked those scenes. The creature was so well utilized and although the film is never scary, it utilizes on its monster and setting really well.

But on the other hand, The Host doesn’t really have a lot going for it thematically speaking and in terms of the message. It is an emotional film at times and its characters and relationships are well established, but I never really got why the critics love it so much and praise it when it isn’t deep at all. Its criticism of America was on-point and I guess it realistically portrays paranoia and what would happen during an epidemic and catastrophe, but it doesn’t have anything else going for it.

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The Host Movie Review

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I liked the protagonist and you can see why Song Kang-ha is famous in South Korea as he really is excellent here and killed it in a difficult role. Others are very forgettable in comparison to him. The movie’s humor is your typical kind of Asian humor that sometimes hit but at times missed the target. But I do respect The Host for featuring a diverse tone.

The score is forgettable, but the cinematography is very good and the film is very well directed and made overall. It has a bunch of memorable action scenes, but I wanted more dramatic elements and the film isn’t really original in any way. So it is a good film, but far from great.

The Host is a good film that features solid characters, a very good performance from Song Kang-ho, great direction from Bong Joon-ho, well utilized setting and creature and stellar action/horror sequences, but it isn’t really original or thematically deep in any way and it is frankly a bit overrated.

My Rating – 4

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The Wailing (2016)

The Wailing Movie Review………………………………………………………..

The Wailing Movie Review

The Wailing is a 2016 South Korean horror film directed by Na Hong-jin. It is a very interesting, yet disappointing movie.

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Not everything that moves, breathes and talks is alive.

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The Wailing Movie Review………………………………………………………..

It is about a policeman who teams up with a shaman and a mysterious woman to investigate mysterious killings and illnesses. The plot itself is serviceable and the film features a well told, well crafted narrative with good direction. I liked some of the plot points quite a bit, but some were boring and disappointing.

The characters are pretty solid for a horror movie plus the actors portraying them all did a really good job. As I said, Na Hong-jin is excellent and he directed the movie really well. The flick benefits from many intriguing concepts in it and it mashes all of them solidly into a diverse whole.

But the reason why The Wailing is still disappointing and just an okay movie, but could easily been great lies mostly in its troublesome execution. The pacing is awful, way too slow and the film is thus quite dull to watch at times. I just never understood the need for two and a half hour long running time for this type of movie. Horror movies rarely need such a long running time and this one certainly didn’t need that as well. If it were an hour shorter, it would have been much more effective.

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The Wailing Movie Review………………………………………………………..

I found its horror elements also lacking. Some of them are fine, but the film isn’t scary and isn’t as atmospheric as it should have been. The overabundance of gore definitely annoyed and frustrated me. There are a couple of scenes that are overly excessive in gore and violence and yet they do not feature real tension at all which was unfortunate. The film is well made, directed and shot. Some of the imagery is quite memorable, but the pacing is awful and it is really unfortunate that they wasted this great opportunity for a great horror feature when all cards were evidently on the table. Immensely disappointing indeed.

The Wailing is a disappointing horror film. It is well shot, directed and acted, but even though it is intriguing and interesting in some of the scenes, as a whole it doesn’t quite work as the use of gore is excessive and the running time of two and a half hours is just too much for this type of film leading to a slower than needed movie. It could have been much more effective had it been shorter in length.

My Rating – 3

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Oseam (2003)

Oseam Movie Review…………………………………

Oseam Movie Review

Oseam is a 2003 South Korean animated film directed by Sung Baek-yeop. It is such a mature, really moving film.

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You mean I smell delicious, like food?

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Oseam Movie Review…………………………………

It is about two orphans, a hyperactive boy and his gentle, blind sister. The movie mostly focuses on their relationship and that approach I absolutely loved as it led to some great character development and mature drama. I will talk about its emotional engagement later on, but now let’s talk about its major plot points. The beginning is really sweet and delightfully childlike and cartoony. It is the only lightweight part in this movie. Next, its religious themes. I really enjoyed those and even though the film did not focus as much as it could have on it, those calmer and more spiritual sequences were some of the highlights here.

As for its third act and especially ending, it is very heartbreaking and just tragic, but also beautiful at the same time. That ending as well as the entire flick draws welcome comparisons to Grave of the Fireflies as it is so mature, but constantly beautiful and heartfelt. I liked its mature storytelling quite a bit and the film is definitely not for kids despite its somewhat deceiving first act.

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Oseam Movie Review…………………………………

Oseam’s character development is strong. Yes, the supporting characters aren’t as memorable as the two protagonists, but that is a good thing as the emphasis is almost entirely on these two. Gami is such a sweet girl and I really liked her as she is naturally likable and even though she’s helpless at times, she was still such a strong female character and such a strong role model. As for Gilson, he might have been a bit annoying at times with his hyperactivity, but that is also a good thing as he is such a realistically depicted kid, but the one who is also caring and just so lovable in the end. The two have a great relationship and that is the heart of the film. And I have to say that their dog is just so cute and so wonderful that I wish that he was more utilized in the film.

Now, for its emotional investment. Oseam is a very emotional film and that is unfortunately a two-edged sword here. Yes, it is very moving at times and the ending is not only tragic, but also wonderful and so powerful. However, whereas it does leave a strong impression, it still has too much of emotion. There is so much crying here, so much outburst of emotion that the movie gets bogged down by it. It is a bit emotionally manipulative at times and the movie definitely crossed the line into overly maudlin territory.

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Oseam Movie Review…………………………………

This South Korean animated feature benefits from some exquisite animation at display. Wow, it is so good, so phenomenal to behold that it is without a doubt the strongest asset the movie possesses. I loved that it is hand drawn, but I also liked some of the CGI that is cleverly implemented here. The movie is a perfect example of Asian natural approach to its storytelling. The attention to detail is great and the flick focuses a lot on nature itself, from the snow to the rivers to the trees and even having some excellent interior designs as well. That snow sequence is so powerful and easily my favorite scene in the movie. But the colors are fantastic and Oseam is not only beautiful to watch, but also incredibly cozy and sweet that I was enjoying myself the whole time.

Yes, the movie is awfully slow. And although that bothered me slightly at certain times, I mostly really enjoyed that slice-of-life approach in its storytelling as it led to a lot of realism as well as a great deal of superb characterization and strong drama. The film is very well directed by Sung Baek-yeop, but also nicely edited and well structured. The flashbacks are mostly great here. Sometimes they were obvious, but I overall liked them as they came at the right times in the story and they offered us a great look at that major moment that ruined the life of these two poor orphans. It was obvious emotional bait, but it still worked to its advantage.

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Oseam Movie Review…………………………………

The score in Oseam is terrific and there were some just wonderful musical pieces here. The tone is too dramatic, but it does have some more lightweight and comedic moments as well. The dialogue is quite good and the film benefits from being quite unpredictable and pretty memorable in the long run. Overall, this film may be too serious and emotional, but it is still an overlooked gem in the animation field that unfortunately never attracted the audience that it deserved for its evident art and craftsmanship.

Oseam is such a serious, mature animated film that isn’t for everyone. It is very emotional, at times even too much, and it is also very slow paced which might bore some people, but to me that slice-of-life approach was mostly great as it led to a lot of great character development and mature drama. And even though it is a bit emotionally manipulative at times, this moving film is still an overlooked gem that benefits from some superb storytelling and an exquisite and just wonderful animation.

My Rating – 4

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