By Jeremy Say
Anyone who read Roald Dahl as a kid has most likely encountered The BFG – a beautifully written children’s book about a lonely orphaned kid named Sophie and a lonely “tiny” Big Friendly Giant who go on a wondrous, fantastical adventure together. They ultimately come to an understanding that they need one another, as they battle the violent children eating giants that not only tower over the BFG but bully him incessantly.
Helmed by Steven Spielberg and written by the late Melissa Mathison, – known for her previous work on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, – the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG is truly faithful to its roots. It is a classically good-natured movie with very little of the darker elements. Paired with amazing visual effects that only a big budget movie could possibly have, The BFG is nothing short of a classic Disney young children movie.
I would have to say I quite enjoyed the visual effects, but it’s Mark Rylance’s performance capture role as the BFG and screen presence that takes your breath away. Every little detail, every mannerism, the voice, and each little change of facial expression was lovely – comparable to some of Andy Serkis’ best performance capture roles using motion capture. Not to take away from Ruby Barnhill’s performance as Sophie, which also had some excellent interactions between the two protagonists.
Now, on to why I hated the film – surprise plot twist! I personally didn’t like the film and I attribute it to nostalgia-tinted glasses. While I still have fond memories of the book, albeit not my favorite Roald Dahl book, it was arguably thin for a 117 minute movie. I actually felt like falling asleep, which I was told I actually did for a minute, during the middle of the movie. The movie amounts to a whole lot of nothing, but yet is a simple, sweet, “tamed” story for children with really weird adult references peppered in. Such as when we see the BFG’s dream bottles and camera pan of a few questionable bottle about “I is naked at my wedding” or “is naked at work”. Oh, not to mention the whole children eating rampage that the other giants went on that was more-or-less completely glossed over – but hey, it is a kids’ movie, so no real sinister plots or dark elements here.
The movie had not much humor until the ending either, as it was nothing more than a long story of love, friendship, trust and beautiful sceneries. The perfect kids’ movie and for some of the adults who reminisce about the good old days when were young meant being truly innocent as you hid from monsters under a blanket. The story of The BFG is something I clearly outgrew and no longer wish to revisit as my brain loves the nostalgia more than the actual thing itself. I do want to applaud Spielberg and Mathison’s direction of the film as something different from what is currently out there at this time.
All their efforts still don’t save The BFG from the monotony that was the majority of the film, as there was never any suspense, laugh-out-loud silly antics, or puns for the most part. There was never any danger or nefarious things – only the happy, beautiful, spiritual dream catcher/weaver fueled dream full of wonderment that they choose to focus on.
Like a dream of happy memories of the past, this movie for me is something I would have enjoyed in the past as well. Back then I would have reckoned it a solid 3.5/5, however today I would have to give it a 2/5. It is more of a thoughtless brain candy movie I would watch at home on the TV rather than at the cinema when I want to go down nostalgia lane.