My Rating: 4 stars
What a delight! I’ve always loved Bong Joon-Ho’s movies. He always has such a unique take on the movie genres we think we’re familiar with. So, I was pretty excited to learn about this new project he had going with Netflix. As far as I’ve been able to tell Netflix has had a pretty good track record with sponsoring original content. Of course, I don’t have knowledge of the internal workings of the company, but it seems like Netflix is pretty good about selecting quality directors, and then handing over complete artistic freedom to them. It takes a pretty wise entertainment executive to know when to keep their hands off.
This movie is so strange and wonderful. It’s a cross between a heartwarming animal movie, moralizing tale about the evils of the commercial food industry, and a bit of an action flick too. It’s the story about a young Korean girl, Mija, and the beloved animal she’s raised since childhood. The big, soulless food conglomerate, Mirando Corporation, has been experimenting with genetically altered sources of meat, and they’ve come up with the “super pig.” It’s a large hippopotamus-dog-pig-looking creature. They’ve sent a few specimens of this new beast around the world to be raised in beautiful, bucolic settings. The aim is to create some robust, healthy, free-range examples of the animal to serve as ambassadors of the project when Mirando is announcing this new meat source to the public. They’re being carefully groomed to be beautiful, happy, healthy-looking animals so that no one thinks of a horrible factory farm when they think of a super-pig. But, no one has told little Mija that the company folk are going to come take away her pet one day. And, there’s no way she’s going to stand for it when they do.
Of course, this is Bong- Joon-Ho, so the film is full of amusing contradictions. It’s a story of a girl and her super-pig, but also an intense, rated-R, action horror movie. But, I can’t really say that it’s more one than the other. It’s as happy as it is sad, and as heartwarming as it is disturbing. Yes, it’s sweet, but it’s also gut-wrenching. Sure, it’s grotesque, but it’s also very irreverently funny. The movie even has violent moments, but it balances those out with simple, country values. And really the most impressive part of the movie is that it never gets heavy-handed with any of these messages. It’s never hammering home any morals or opinions. It simply presents ideas and lets the viewers come to their own conclusions. It’s a remarkably made film. And, you don’t have to wait to see it. It’s available through any streaming subscription to Netflix. So, I saw it the day it came out. And, I recommend you see it too. Just be prepared to feel a lot of different emotions in quick succession—not all of them good.