Joon-ho's film tone is so odd that it often catches me off-guard, making me fall out of the film's message. If there was not any comedy in Okja, I would value the message a lot more. While most of the acting is fantastic, I am still pondering what Joon-ho was doing with Jake Gyllenhaal's (Donnie Darko, Nightcrawler) character. As Johnny Wilcox, Gyllenhaal goes way overboard with his voice and eccentric attitude. This is one of the worst roles I have seen in a Joon-ho film. Clearly, Joon-ho wanted Gyllenhaal to be a comic relief for the dark subject matter, but he really is too much.
Luckily, the rest of the acting is more serious and deserving of praise. I loved Paul Dano's role as a vegetarian rebel leader. Dano seems to have struck gold with his recent successes in diverse roles ranging from Prisoners to Swiss Army Man. Tilda Swinton's (Adaptation., Doctor Strange) character is similar to her character in Snowpiercer, which is fun to watch but really odd at the same time. My favorite casting choice for the film would have to be Seo-Hyun Ahn (The Housemaid) as Mija. Mija is a stubborn, but also innocent character which Ahn portrays perfectly. I'm glad that less familiar foreign actors and actresses are finally making their way to American audiences!
With the quirkiness of the characters and subject matter, the cinematography and CGI effects are still beautiful. The first quarter of the film is a broad image of a Korean countryside where Okja and Mija live. The shots are epic and open space fills the screen with natural beauty. When we move into the city, Joon-ho maintains his grand film scale. The action sequences are fluid and every shot is worthwhile. Of course, Okja has no noticeable flaws. The super pig graces the screen as if it is an actual giant pig.
The Bottom Line: Although the tone is a bit quirkier than usual, Bong Joon-ho maintains his filmography with another pressing subject.