TL;DR – Beautiful, touching, funny, heart-warming, if you go you will have a good time
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
I grew up during the Disney Renaissance, in a time of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Mulan. It was a great time for fairy tales … but they all have that Disney-fication about their stories that removed a lot of the weird, I mean have you ever read the One Thousand and One Nights, or the original Hans Christian Andersen version of The Little Mermaid, that stuff be messed up. So when I was growing up the were two sources of weird that you could come across, the first was Paul Jennings which was adapted into the Australian mainstay of Round The Twist, and the other was Roald Dahl. His work was wired and wonderful, books like The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, were irreverent, weird, wonderful and full of heart. Now, movie adaptions of Roald Dahl’s books have been hits and misses, and Roald Dahl himself had been generally really negative about all the movie adaptions of his books. So with this in mind we have The BFG, a book I loved as a child, but with movie adaptions of books being such a mixed bag, how does this one go? The BFG is one of the best I have seen.
The BFG or Big Friendly Giant tells the story of Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), who is living in an orphanage and one night at witching hour got out of bed, walked towards the window, looked behind the curtains, and saw something she shouldn’t have The BFG (Mark Rylance). The BFG is monstrous 7 meters tall (24 feet) giant that roams the streets of Britain at night but there is more to him that it seems.
When you have Steven Spielberg directing you expect there to be a level of quality … most of the time… Kingdom of the Crystal Skull … and given the source material I was hoping for an amazing collaboration, and boy is there ever. Mark Rylance excels as the BFG, even through the difficulties of CGI his performance shines through. Rylance brought surprising warmth to his spy character in The Bridge of Spies and he does it here as the caring but compromised Giant. As the only major human character in the movie, Ruby Barnhill is really great as Sophie and brings a lot of strength to her role which is rare for someone so young.
The animations are really beautiful, the dream world and BFGs house are standouts, with some wonderful use of colour and small details to really bring this world to life. The interaction of the real world people and the digital giants works quite well, but there are a couple of odd moments, especially when Sophie is in someone’s hands where it doesn’t quite work.
The emotion and humour in this film hits all the right marks, including the single most humour scene I have seen on film in a long time. There is a lot of slapstick humour in this film, which I usually tire of quite quickly, but it is so expertly done you can’t help but laugh along with it. They have inserted a couple of ‘action set pieces’ but unlike Tintin, they don’t outstay their welcome. Of course, the music is really great, but when you have John Williams you know it is going to be good, hell he made even the Star Wars Prequels sound amazing. Just in general this is a really faithful adaption of the source book, it refreshes it for a modern audience but loses none of the charm of the original. The one minor gripe I have is that I thought BFG was taller, but then maybe that is just the perspectives of a child I am remembering.
In the end, I really enjoyed The BFG and from the excited conversations of the kids in the cinema I went to are any guide then kids are going to like this too, so if you are looking for a movie to go take kids to these holidays, that you will also enjoy, then this is the one for you.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by – Melissa Mathison
Based on – The BFG by Roald Dahl
Starring – Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Jemaine Clement, Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall & Bill Hader
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; NZ: PG; UK: PG; USA: PG-13