EIFF 2017: Part II

Okja: *****
Director Bong Joon-ho UK, US, South Korea. 2017. Running time 118 mins.

The director of ‘The Host’ and ‘Snowpiercer’ returns with this bizarre, but fun fantasy piece made for Netflix.

CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) and her company the Mirando Corporation have bioengineered super pigs to provide the world with a new sustainable food source. Ten years later, one of the specimens, Okja has been raised into an enormous beast by Mija (An Seo-hyun) in the mountains of Korea. When Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) claims back Okja for the corporation, Mija heads to Seoul to retrieve her friend.  She is joined  by the Animal Liberation Front (including Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Devok Bostik, Daniel Henshall and Steven Yeun) who assist in the fight to retrieve Okja  and expose the real activities of Mirando.  

The script  co-written by ‘The Men Who Stare At Goats’ Jon Ronson mixes  slapstick, dark humour, fantasy with environmental politics. The main theme being the dangers of genetic modification and the production of meat is a cruel business. 

Even compared to his last monster movie this film is bigger and crazier than Bong’s ‘The Host’, but also more grounded. The look of the film with colourful landscapes shot by legendary cinematographer Darius Khondji and the creature which is so realistic. 

Great performances from all the cast especially by An Seo-hyun who is the main heart of the film. While Swinton appears to relishing playing sisters who are evil in different ways. 

 By the end it is hard to hold back the tears with the emotional third act. It is a shame that this demented, but incredibly enchanting piece of work only has a limited time on the big screen before it is available for streaming for the masses. 

Cars 3 ***

Director Brian Fee . US. 2017. Running time 109 mins.

Is third time a charm for a franchise that was never really in demand or requested?
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has been winning races for years. Until new car Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) arrives on the scene and takes over McQueen’s place on top and leading him to a fatal crash. McQueen retires to Radiator Springs, but is lured back into the racing game with the latest in high-tech training software. Along with his new trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), they try and reclaim success for McQueen.

After an entertaining introduction to the world of Cars in 2006, Pixar brought the characters back in an overblown sequel lead by their most annoying character Mater(Larry the Cable Guy). Thankfully they have gone back to the drawing board as well as giving Mater less screen time. 

First-time director Brian Lee deserves the praise in making this sequel a success, by making the focus more on McQueen. The story has more of a personal arc with an overall message that will resonate with families of all ages. The plot is fairly slow and does not really take off until the second act.  Ramirez is also a welcome addition and an aspiring role model to girls.

Pixar has for many years lead the way with each movie advancing in more groundbreaking animation, however this time apart from the racing scenes there appears to be no impressive changes. 

While only reason that Disney/Pixar still make films in this franchise it is solely for the reason of merchandise.  A pleasant journey, but kids will enjoy this journey more than the rest of their families.
Reviewed by Paul Logan

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