OKJA, Your Next Family Movie Night? My No-Spoiler Review

OKJA, directed by Bong Joon-ho, written by Joon-ho and Jon Ronson (from a story by Joon-ho) is yet another example of Korean film genius. This film is set in a speculative future (despite the film’s timestamp of 2007)…the scifi aspects of the story have to do with genetics. First, the short review.

6 Reasons OKJA Will Delight

  1. Streamable for free on Netflix, family friendly (I would rate it PG-13 for violence)
  2. Although there are Korean characters who only speak Korean (therefore, yes, you’ll have to read subtitles), much of this film is either visual narrative or the characters speak English
  3. Action-packed
  4. Funny and Heart-warming (the creature created for this film is cute and compelling)
  5. Thoughtful perspective on the food industrial complex
  6. With the child protagonist on a grand chase/adventure and with compassion at its core, this story feels like Studio Ghibli in all the best ways

Longer Review

Lately, when I look for something interesting and fun to watch, I gravitate toward Korean filmmakers. Why? They are some of the best storytellers around and Netflix is committed to working with them/putting their work out to the broadest audience. Moreover, Korean filmmakers don’t seem fixated on US/European political issues, which bore me these days. OKJA does touch on the industrial food complex…a global reality that is political. In particular, OKJA explores how meat is produced and processed for broad human consumption. But don’t let that stop you from watching this interesting and entertaining film. I think the questions that arise from the film are worth thinking about for every person on Earth, whether a vegetarian, vegan, or an omnivore. Kids watching this will also feel the implications of our “appetites”. It’s not a bad thing to help our youth understand that meat actually comes from creatures who live on this Earth with and among us. That’s a worthy conversation to have with our future leaders who will likely make choices for all of us about how we are to care for planet and creatures.

With an all-star cast, both Korean and US born actors inhabit this film. Stars like Tilda Swinton, Steven Yuen (The Walking Dead, Minari, Nope), Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, The Batman, The Fabelmans), Yoon Je-moon (The Man Nextdoor), and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Donny Darko) inhabit this universe. The protagonist, Korean actress Ahn Seo-hyun, is fantastic as the stoic caretaker of OKJA. She is the studio Ghibli-styled determined child who will not give up on her friend. This story is as much about loyalty and friendship as it is about food politics. I loved OKJA and I hope your family does too. 


Lost In Space, 2018 Netflix Series, a Review

Danger Will Robinson?

Let’s say you’re a single male/female scifi fan or no-kids couple and both of you are scifi fans. I say…YES, watch this. Let’s say you’re a family that likes scifi or even…you just like great stories, I say…ABSOLUTELY, YES! Watch LOST IN SPACE together. This series is totally fun and so far, it is blowing my socks off.

I couldn’t wait to give this review. I confess, I have not watched the entire first season of LOST IN SPACE, but I’ve watched enough  to give an initial review.

In particular, I want parents to see this review early in the summer. It’s fun to find a tv series that the entire family can watch together. Summer is the perfect time to take on such a community watching experience. I’ve seen five episodes of season one and feel confident this one is worthy of our attention. If you’re comfortable with a PG-13 rating, LOST IN SPACE is fantastic and here’s why…

This series contains:

  1. Action packed storylines, kid-centric in a good way, but still entertaining for adults.
  2. Deft story-telling, internal family tension, external forces that threaten the family and their survival…characters that are smart, but also clunky in their own ways and real-seeming (ok…those kids are all brainiacs, but they were chosen for the journey because of their intelligence).
  3. Perfect villains. Two main villains so far: Parker Posey as Dr. Smith and the robot(s). Posey plays a great devil within. Is she a time bomb waiting to go off, or is she on the road to becoming a more balanced human being? Stay tuned for that one. The great thing is, she creates tension in the system and has potential to draw out the best or worst of the characters around her.
  4. The robot character is wonderfully mysterious and yet lovable. Its relationship with Will is going to win over children of all ages not only because it is super cool, with the strength of a super hero and the loyalty of a dog, but she/he/it is also a mystery. The robot truly feels obliged to protect young Will…the relationship emerges in the pilot (first episode).
  5. Non-stop adventure. Thousands of potential storylines exploring a new world and learning how to survive…plus characters that have the potential to grow and in doing so, grow on us.

Congratulations to Netflix for re-imagining this beloved series in a way that honors the original and surprises us with the new. The stories are imaginative, the characters feel real and the special effects are soooo much better than the original!