Sunday, July 3, 2016

Review: The BFG

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.
Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book "The BFG" is a gentle, good natured fairy tale with a fairly impressive use of motion capture and some decent special effects, although the picture is not among the director's finest works and more for younger audiences as opposed to his classic "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial," which was equally friendly for children and adults alike.

As the film opens, a curious young British girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is living in an orphanage and has difficulty sleeping at night. Hearing a noise outside on the streets, she fails to follow her own advice about not peeping behind the curtain and is snatched out of her bedroom by a gigantic hand that belongs to the titular creature (Mark Rylance), a kind giant whose job is to catch dreams and blow them into the ears and mouths of sleeping children.

The Big Friendly Giant - or BFG as Sophie comes to call him - whisks the young girl back to his small home, which is filled with all manner of gadgets and trinkets. As it turns out, the BFG is the only friendly one of his kind. His neighbors are a gang of nasty, people-eating giants who bully the BFG due to his small stature and begin to suspect that he is harboring a human that they could have for a snack. The BFG, on the other hand, is a vegetarian who only eats gruesome items known as snozzcumbers.

For a movie aimed at children, "The BFG" is often darker than you'd expect as Sophie is often in danger of being discovered and devoured. But Spielberg's picture is mostly a cheerful tale about good people - and giants, mind you - who want to do the right thing. The film takes a detour into slightly sillier territory in the latter half during some scenes involving the Queen of England that, yes, I know, were also in the book. I could also, perhaps, have done without the numerous fart jokes involved when the giant drinks a beverage in which the bubbles float downward, not upward.

But aside from these quibbles, Spielberg's film is a sweet, well made, visually impressive and kind hearted story. My favorite moments in the picture involve the BFG's sneaking around London, hiding in the shadows and pretending to be statues when he is about to be discovered. Spielberg has done a pretty decent job here of capturing the story through the eyes of a child, which might explain why the picture's tone is a little less serious than "E.T." It's a relatively minor film in an impressive oeuvre, but an overall good time.

1 comment:

  1. The queen part threw me off a bit too. Otherwise, it's a fine piece of fantasy.

    - Zach