Earlier this year, Netflix got serious about movies. Though they may not pop up in your feed with the same frequency as the streaming service's flagship TV shows, like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, the last six months have seen the company release about an original film a week, including in-house productions and indies plucked from festivals like Sundance and SXSW. Despite the volume of projects, which have ranged from broad comedies to brainy documentaries, they've never had a great one. Until now.
This week, the company released Okja, the new film from Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-Ho, and it is the first Netflix Original film that's truly spectacular.
Okja's surface-level plot reads like one of Pixar's animated fables: A young peasant girl named Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) attempts to rescue her genetically-modified pig from harm. But that disarmingly cute creature is also being pursued by an image-obsessed CEO (Tilda Swinton), a fanatical animal-rights terrorist group lead by a soft-voiced true-believer (Paul Dano), and a washed-up zoologist (Jake Gyllenhaal) who screams (and sweats) like he's constantly melting. As Jordan Hoffman pointed out when he reviewed the film for Thrillist at Cannes, the movie draws heavily from the Spielberg playbook -- but it also eats that playbook and farts it out in little cute bubbles.