*NEW* OKJA REVIEW *NEW*

A bit more than OK, ja?

Meet Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn), a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja.

Strange, charming, quirky. What did you expect from the guy who gave us The Host?

I was surprised to see a Bong Joon-ho flick on Netflix. I’m glad the Twitter poll recommended this.

The eclectic opener with Tilda Swinton’s (We Need to Talk About Kevin) brace ridden quirky corporate exec didn’t really give me high hopes.

Swinton doesn’t like to do normal, does she? BUT we wouldn’t have it any other way. The random statistics and animated PowerPoint presentations threw me into a mini-coma.

To cut a long story short, the world is overpopulated and running out of food. Cue the discovery of “super piglet” on a Chilean farm, a litter of little super piglets and a worldwide competition among farmers to grow the biggest pig.

Fast forward 10 years to a beautifully pastoral Korean forest setting. Darius Khondji’s cinematography was breathtaking.

The animation was very good. The detail on Okja was brilliant. A cross between a giant hippo and a elephant with the mannerisms of a dog.

Mija and Okja reminded me of characters from a live action Studio Ghibli animation. I loved the dynamic.

There was an easygoing feel to the piece as we watched the pair hunt and frolic in the woods. Establishing that their bond was more than just a farmer raising her produce.

It wasn’t long before the pair’s safe haven was disrupted by the emergence of the squeaky and highly flamboyant simpleton Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal – Donnie Darko). A fame-seeking animal loving TV host.

God knows what Gyllenhaal was smoking while taking on this role?! He was bloody mental and hilarious. A deluded hypocrite. Scene stealer in every frame he featured.

Of course being “company property”, Okja must return to New York to claim her prize as “best pig” and face her impending fate. Throwing Mija into one mad journey.

Seo-Hyun Ahn was brilliant as the resilient Mija. It takes a lot for a child actor not to infuriate me BUT she played the role perfectly.

The Seoul street chase was a fantastically choreographed and entertaining sequence as Mija ran through alleyways and dived over highway bridges.

Things taking a highly comical turn when a group of animal activists decide to free Okja at the same time. The Animal Liberation Front were a great addition to the mix and featured a surprisingly talented supporting cast.

I couldn’t help but laugh as the gang tried to remain peaceful during Okja’s rescue mission. The friendliest highway robbery I’ve ever seen (“Please co-operate”).

Pointing a gun at the truck driver, demanding he put on his seat belt before ramming him off the road. Swiftly followed by a sincere apology. Desperate not to use violence by any means.

Steven Yuen (Glenn from Walking Dead!) and Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man) were excellent as K and Jay. Dano’s reaction at the speed of the Korean language to English as he asked to be translated was a particular highlight.

Lily Collins (Love, Rosie) did her best to hide those brows from the balaclava BUT I knew it was her before the big reveal.

Devon Bostick has come a long way from his Wimpy Kid days. His character Silver had so much potential BUT didn’t get enough screen time. Refusing to eat in order to leave the smallest carbon footprint.

I felt their characters got lost in the chaos. Shame. And that was kind of the problem; the pace lumbered things drastically especially during the middle act that I could feel myself fidgeting.

Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito was wasted in his minute role as Mirando’s underling.

I was happy to see Trainspotting’s Shirley Henderson feature. Moaning Myrtle just doesn’t get a break.

The second half certainly delivered a more rewarding affair BUT I didn’t expect the direction it took. I would have said that this was a kid’s film right up until Okja’s incarceration in a New York lab.

Bong Joon-ho brilliantly encapsulated the GM food crisis perfectly. Showing the brutal treatment of animals. I’m not a vegetarian BUT even I was left feeling queasy. Especially during the “natural non-forced breeding” process.

The gruelling underbelly of corporate control as Swinton’s Mirando tried to turn Mija and Okja’s bond into one big PR stunt to help change her company’s bad image.

I thought Snowpiercer was dreadful. The saving grace (Sorry, Chris Evans) being Tilda Swinton. I was getting disappointed at her lack of screen time. That was until the mad final act. She delivered everything I expected.

The closing minutes left food for thought making this a rewarding and charming little film (If a little long at the tooth) that delivered raw social commentary and mad humour.

A pleasant surprise.

3.5/5 (Just)

*NEW* T2 TRAINSPOTTING REVIEW *NEW*

trainspotting

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a sequel that is actually good. Choose this film.

After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

It was always going to be tough to top such an iconic film. BUT if anyone was going to take it on, it could only be Danny Boyle.

21 years?! 21 years for a sequel that no one really asked for or wanted. BUT come on. How many of you were buzzing when those teaser/trailers hit the big screen with Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life blaring in all its glory?!

As soon as the hypnotic bassy beat of High Contrast’s Shotgun Mouthwash blared through the speakers, I cracked a grin. I knew what I was getting in for.

I was a huge fan of the film BUT have yet to read the Irvine Welch novels. Although I’ve been told they are not the most accessible of novels. A perfect example demonstrated with Spud’s “memoirs” as the lads ripped him for his indecipherable drivel. The bigger joke being that they were actual extracts from Welch’s books.

Considering the massive time gap, the cast hadn’t really changed. A perfect contradiction. Everything had changed BUT it was all still the same.

I couldn’t fault any of the lads. Bremner was spot on as Spud. His random stories delivering some cracking one liners. McGregor was superb. Miller nailed it. BUT there was one man who ran the show. And that man was Ol’ Begbie himself, Robert Carlyle.

He chewed up every scene he was in. A bi-polar bad ass. Bringing nail biting tension and bittersweet humour by the bucket loads. The man you loved to hate. A ticking time bomb.

The first act was just as mad and frenetic as the original. And I have to admit, I was beaming from ear to ear. All the little nods. The soundtrack was spot on. Mixing new with the old. Boyle teasing every scene with a drop of Iggy or a riff of Underworld. Perfect.

The excitement as the gang united for one more drug fuelled mind f**k of a reunion.

However, it wasn’t going to be all hugs and kisses now. Let’s not forget that Renton ran off to Amsterdam with all the drug money. Begbie vowing to kill him if ever their paths would meet again.

It was funny watching the mixed reactions as Renton returned BUT it was also quite hard hitting as well. Especially with Spud as he tried to get clean after years of being a junkie.

Sick Boy was still up to the same old hustle. Extorting rich businessmen in sleazy hotels and Begbie . . . Well, he broke out of prison.

I was in stitches watching Begbie trying to educate Begbie Jr with the ways of his trade. Especially when the poor boy would rather focus on his degree in Hotel Management than tea leaf a 50 inch flat screen.

The middle act did test me as we waited for Renton’s inevitable reunion with Begbie. Wondering if Sick Boy would screw him over. However, once the pair inevitably met, it was gritty, enthralling and funny.

Seriously when the pair realised they were in the cubicles next to each other, it was like something out of a Marx Brothers sketch. I will say no more.

It really came full circle as the lads re-evaluated their lives and remembered the glory days. The retreads through pivotal scenes were enjoyable as it recapped for some of the less avid Trainspotting fans particular plot points.

There was even a revelation that I never picked up on from the original. BUT after a while, it got too repetitive and took the attention away from the ongoing story line. I was starting to feel like I was watching the first one all over again.

BUT Renton and Sick Boy’s little con was entertaining enough. Infiltrating a Protestant pub to steal bank cards. Their ruse nearly discovered until the pair had to pull one hell of a distraction. Trust Boyle to get McGregor singing. And what a song! THERE ARE NO CATHOLICS LEFT!

For most of the film, I was pleasantly surprised BUT that’s not to say that it was perfect.

Anjela Nedyalkova’s turn as Veronika was a mixed bag for me. She came off as an unsuspecting femme fatale that got in the way. A mere plot device to spurn the fractious relationship between Sick Boy and Renton while helping Spud focus his rehabilitation on something more productive. 

I didn’t want to spoil too much about who pops up and what BUT Shirley Henderson was completely wasted as Gail. A mere passing cameo. Shame.

The pace was a killer and it really dragged to that finale. BUT once it kicked off, it was tense, unsettling and delivered a fitting swansong that ticked all the boxes.

A gritty visceral emotional rollercoaster ride that perfectly tackled friendship, loss, nostalgia. A bloody good watch from a reunion I didn’t expect. For a sequel I never thought would happen.

CHOOSE A FILM. CHOOSE ONE THAT WILL ENTERTAIN. CHOOSE ONE THAT IS (ALMOST) WORTH THE HYPE. CHOOSE THIS.

3.5/5

Please enjoy this High Contrast song and suffer the infectious beat that has been in my head for days.