Title – The BFG (2016)
Director – Steven Spielberg (E.T)
Cast – Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader
Plot – Orphan girl Sophie (Barnhill) is one night kidnapped by a giant known as the BFG (Rylance) who takes Sophie back to his giant kingdom. Once there, a friendship develops between the two but so does the danger posed by The BFG’s giant enemies lead by the child eating Fleshlumpeater (Clement).
“Never get out of the bed. Never go to the window. Never look behind the curtain”
Review by Eddie on 5/07/2016
Steven Spielberg doesn’t make “bad” films; even his oft ridiculed 1941 isn’t actually “that bad” and lets just forget about The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but the Great Beared One’s The BFG is certainly below middle of the road leaning towards downright average Spielbergian fare, which is a great big shame when you consider the seemingly perfectly suited combination of the famed director and author extraordinaire Roald Dahl.
A beloved novel (and one I certainly enjoyed as a child) and an enjoyable animated feature, The BFG is an appealing tale that features wonder, intrigue and more than its fair share of potty humour (which makes up one of the films major set ups) and we all know Spielberg can handle himself when it comes to family entertainment but there’s something strikingly off about The BFG, that whilst hard to pinpoint to an exact element, is enough to hamper the film for its entirety of its runtime even though there are glimpses of a much better film frequently appearing throughout.
The film looks and sounds delightful, as you’d expect with the finely crafted CGI, the score from John Williams and the lens work from frequent Spielberg DOP Janusz Kaminski and after unearthing the underused and largely unknown Mark Rylance (now an Oscar winner) in Bridge of Spies last year, Spielberg and the British theatre staple produce an impressive BFG incarnation with Rylance’s animated facial expressions and colourful portrayal of the runt of the giant litter a stand out in a film that finds trouble making us care for the characters that inhabit it and the narrative that drives it.
Newcomer Ruby Barnhill gets the tricky job of making human lead Sophie work and while the young performer clearly has the attitude to become Sophie, it’s not a memorable turn by any stretch of the imagination and Sophie often comes across as annoying rather than endearing and her friendship with the BFG doesn’t ever get the warm and fuzzies going.
The other (forgive me please) giant problem with The BFG is the actual source material and E.T screenwriter Melissa Mathison’s adaptation of it. The film never really feels like it has anything on the line, never actually seems to be going anywhere fast and with a downright lacking finale the whole show feels like a non-event. It’s strange for a Spielberg film to feel so as even his average films are still good fun whereas The BFG finds the esteemed filmmaker struggling to wring emotion, fun or excitement (even dream catching seems boring) out of a tale that on the basis of this effort seems far better suited to text rather than screen.
A hugely disappointing experience and one that will likely get lost in the abundance of high and low class family films getting produced on a mass level in today’s climate, The BFG marks what could be a career low point for Spielberg and one of 2016’s biggest missed opportunities and even for the biggest Spielberg fans out there, this is a film you can safely miss seeing on the big screen and perhaps altogether. Not something you’d often say regarding the newest Spielberg blockbuster.
2 bubbly beverages out of 5