Spielberg returns to the whimsy of E.T. and Hook with this highly successful (aside from the box office) take on a classic Roald Dahl childrens book.
The BFG (2016) is a family adventure directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison. It stars Ruby Barnhill, a headstrong orphan in London who is abducted by a mysterious figure she dubs the BFG (The Big Friendly Giant, played by Mark Rylance), a kind-hearted and vegetarian giant who whisks her away on an adventure into the magical giant country.
This film is penned by the hand that wrote E.T., and combined with all the Dahlisms in the world, this is a textbook example of how charming and whimsical a childhood film concocted by Spielberg can be. Straightforward yet never dull, the exploration of giant country and the blossoming relationship between Sophie and the BFG is portrayed with enrapturing sweetness and is sure to capture the imagination of every child in the audience for a few hours. Spielberg is obviously a master craftsman – the long takes and smart shots elevate an already excellent script to another level. Some scenes can be simply described as pure wonder. While it doesn’t quite maintain the same level of charm throughout – the second half does dip – and sometimes struggles with story momentum, its overall an impressively constructed kids movie that takes full advantage of Dahl’s work and Spielberg’s talent.
Equally wonderful is the main duo. In only her second role ever, Ruby Barnhill is incredibly impressive as Sophie – while The Jungle Book‘s Mowgli was often spied looking unfocused while working with CGI constructs, I didn’t notice Barnhill eye’s wandering once. In addition, she sells Sophie’s headstrong nature and imagination with ease, while also making her relationship with the BFG feel authentic. And it doesn’t hurt that Rylance plays the friendly giant to perfection. The recent academy award winner may speak in an accent and language that is sometimes obtuse, but Mark Rylance still reaches a level of all-time greatness in his motion-captured performance. The nuance and authenticity of his performance is a sight to behold and for a character which the entire film rests on, Rylance does not falter once.
A charming escapade that does justice to both the source material and to Spielberg’s skill, The BFG is never going to be considered the classic the same way its E.T. brethren is, but is still a very kid-friendly and charming ride into the wonder and imagination of two incredible artists.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended
Kids: Highly Recommended