The BFG – Movie Review

After a string of serious, historical based films, director Steven Spielberg returns to the family genre with his adaption of Roald Dahl’s famous book, The BFG. So, is it any good?YES The BFG is a lighthearted children’s fantasy that centres of an orphan named Sophie, whom one night discovers a giant lurking out her windows. Spooked that he has been seen, the BFG whisks Sophie away to Giant Country. There she learns all about the BFG’s job, as the deliverer of dreams, and his conflicts with the other not so friendly, man-eating giants whom also inhabit the Giant County. Together, the two of them concoct a plan to save the children of the world from the Giants that goes all the way up to the Queen!bfg3 For those who are familiar with the book, you’ll be happy to know that Spielberg and E.T. screenwriter, the late Melissa Mathison, treat the book with respect and feature all the key elements – including some of the more silly moments (whizz popping anyone!). The reunion between Spielberg and Mathison on this project would have some hoping for the next E.T, but sadly the film never reaches those heights (most would consider it hard to capture that lightning in a bottle twice). That being said, this is an enjoyable family film, suitable for all ages – and probably the lightest thing Spielberg has ever done.bfg1The cast is led by newcomer Ruby Barnhill, who plays Sophie. She plays her role with gusto and excitement. Whilst she is a joy to watch on screen, it’s Mark Rylance‘s performance capture role as the titular BFG who truly steals the show. Anybody who enjoyed his performance in Bridge of Spies will be pleased to know that his personality and charm aren’t lost in the creation of the CGI character. He truly brings magic to the role, and provided many giggle worthy moments for the audience. Along for the ride in very minor (and somewhat wasted) roles are Rafe Spall & Rebecca Hall as members of the Queen’s staff. The Queen herself is played charmingly by Penelope Wilton (Shaun’s mum!) and her scenes were the highlight of the film. The leader of the man-eating giants, Fleshlumpeater is brought to life by Jermaine Clement, but the other 7 or so giants are completely forgettable. Bill Hader was listed in the cast as one of the giants, but I’d have a hard time telling you which one he actually was!bfg2 The BFG clocks in at just under a solid 2 hours, which may seem a little on the long side for a family film. The film doesn’t waste any time in introducing the main players and whisking the audience right into the story, but I found the second act to be a bit slow, other than a whimsical sequence involving Dream country and a tree that would give the bio luminescent forest from Avatar a run for its money. Thankfully, the 3rd act involving the Queen is thoroughly enjoyable and brings the film to solid finale.

I’m generally wary when a lead character in a live action film is to be brought to life via performance capture/CGI. Often the characters end up in ‘uncanny valley’, where they look just slightly off (soul-less eyes etc). I’m happy to report that for the most part, the BFG himself is executed flawlessly. There’s so much warmth and humour to Rylance’s performance and none of it is lost in the transition to the screen. There are a few moments that felt a little off (mainly any physical interactions with the human cast), but for the most part, it’s incredibly well done. John Williams returns (after skipping Spielberg’s last film – Bridge of Spies) and brings a score that fits fine within the film, but nothing terribly memorable.bfg4The BFG is a family friendly film of the likes which are rarely made anymore. The BFG won’t be remembered as one of Spielberg’s greatest, nor will this film be for everybody, but families with younger children will have a great time and enjoy this tale of orphans, giants and the literal pursuit of dreams.