The BFG


Director: Steven Spielberg.
Screenplay: Melissa Mathison.
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Jermaine Clement, Penelope Wilton, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Adam Godley, Michael Adamthwaite, Daniel Bacon, Jonathan Holmes, Chris Gibbs, Paul Moniz de Sa.

“I hears your lonely heart, in all the secret whisperings of the world”

With the exception of The Adventures of Tintin in 2011, Steven Spielberg has been getting all serious on us over the last five years. He’s predominantly dealt with war, politics and espionage in War Horse, Lincoln and Bridge of Spies respectively. However, he now reunites with his E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison to bring a much loved children’s novel to the big screen in The BFG – a film which brings reminders of his fantastical adventures and his ability to deliver family friendly entertainment. One evening in her orphanage young Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) encounters something she never knew existed – a 24 foot tall giant. To protect his anonymity, the giant decides to take her back to Giant Country where an initially apprehensive Sophie realises that the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) is actually very gentle and well mannered. However, her arrival in Giant Country attracts the attention of bigger, more bloodthirsty giants that have been known to eat children, leaving Sophie and the BFG formulating a plan to get rid of them for good.
Spielberg always seemed like the perfect choice to adapt Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel and it doesn’t take long to to realise the story is in safe hands with him. From the opening sequence alone on how the giant manages to hide while prowling the city at night is one of the film’s true highlights and while still putting his own stamp on the proceedings, Spielberg shows that he has a keen eye and ear for the essence of the book. The BFG’s lexicon of gibberish language is a delight and the stunning visuals really bring the character to life. As is often the case with Spielberg’s fantasies, it’s quite a spectacle.In a combination of CGI, motion capture and exemplary acting abilities Mark Rylance delivers a solid performance as the amiable giant. Despite his imposing presence, Rylance captures the emotion and sensitivity required for the role without ever overplaying it. Put simply, he’s an absolute joy to watch. And the same goes for Jermaine Clement as the Fleshlumpeater – The BFG’s bloodthirsty nemesis.

The film is not without it’s problems, though. For a start, it has pacing issues. It’s overlong and within it’s two hour running time has several periodic lulls which can cause your concentration to waver. Younger viewers, in particular, may find themselves distracted. That said, the final third taps more into a child’s sense of humour with the odd fart joke here and there and Spielberg can’t resist being overly sentimental on occasion. As much as this will capture the enthusiasm for kids, it will probably ostracise some adults and it’s this unbalanced approach that becomes a slight sticking point. Overall, though, these are small gripes as there’s still plenty to admire from Spielberg’s efforts. It’s escapist entertainment with a genuine heart and playfulness and when it’s called upon to be exciting, it has some excellent set-pieces that Spielberg is more than able to handle.The late Melissa Mathison’s screenplay has a tendency to wander and the film could have been tighter but the visual effects are astonishing and Rylance and Clement really deliver the goods in the acting stakes. A magical childhood classic that has finally been given the big screen treatment that it’s deserved for years.


Mark Walker

Trivia: At one point during the movie’s long gestation and development, the late Robin Williams was touted to star as the BFG.

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32 Responses to “The BFG”

  1. Stellar review. I loved the book as a child so it sounds like the film is a very good interpretation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review Mark. Even though I read pretty much every Dahl book as a kid, I haven’t yet caught up with The BFG. The trailers looked kind of gooey (hey, it’s Spielberg), but I’ll probably end up catching this when it hits VOD.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Charles. It is Spielberg so a certain schmaltz is to be expected but, for the most part, he reigns it in. It’s a good adaptation of a story that still resonates with many. He does a decent job and worth a watch as a fan of Dahl.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting read Mark. It’s probably because I never read any Dahl as a kid, but I’ve let this one slip by, and don’t think I’ll bother going to see it. It’s just not drawing me in, even with Rylance and Spielberg on the job, but good to see a review over here nevertheless!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Stu. I had to shoehorn this review to try and jolt me back to the blogosphere again.

      I had fun with this one, man. I love Dahl’s stories and there’s no doubt that this holds a little touch of nostalgia. It’s flawed but still fine family fluff, you know?

      Like

  4. Glad to hear you liked it Mark. I did too. It seems to have pushed away a lot of people but I really appreciated its slower pace and detail given to the central relationship. And as you said, Rylance is so good here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My gripes with it were small, man. It was slightly over long and some parts dragged but overall I got into it. Spielberg had a good command over it and there were several moments that were absolutely stunning. And yeah, Rylance was outstanding wasn’t he? A real breakthrough for CGI, motion capture and an actors ability to still shine through. Cheers bro!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hear hear mate. I had a great time with this. Parts kinds fall down and the ending is a bit anticlimactic, but Spielberg really does this justice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, man. Spielberg does a solid job on this one. I had some issues with its pace but, overall, it’s hard to expect anything better than what’s delivered. (sorry for the late reply bud.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The effects for the BFG look incredible, looking forward to seeing this movie and to see how Spielberg has brough his own unique style to the classic

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    • The effects are fantastic Benjamin. There’s no mistaking that and Spielberg does his usual reliable work on a family fantasy. I had a lot of fun.

      (Apologies for the late reply, my friend. And thanks for dropping by) 🙂

      Like

  7. Looks stunning. I just interviewed Jonathan Holmes (who plays The Childchewer) about his work with Spielberg and how they filmed the sequences using Performance Capture. He described the process as acting with funny dots all over your body and face!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! I guess that sums up the whole motion capture acting experience. Nice one!

      It’s a good slice of family entertainment, Dan. There’s no really much more that could be asked than that. I liked it.

      Like

  8. “It’s escapist entertainment with a genuine heart ”

    Really well put man. I’m glad you enjoyed this, I gave it a similar score I think. Like you I loved the visual effects, they were incredible!! And I agree its a nice change of pace for Spielberg, who I must admit I’ve never been a big fan of. Quite a spectacle indeed! Would be keen to hear your thoughts on what I wrote about it, I thought there were some great themes in there for young kids

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers bro! Yeah, it’s hard to deny a film that just wants to transport you into another fantastical word and Spielberg can often do that very well. It had some issues but not enough of them to spoil your enjoyment.

      Just getting back to blogging again, man. I’ll swing over today to catch up with your review. 🙂

      Like

      • No worries mate. Yeah I’ve had studies get in the way, I haven’t posted much recently either

        Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you, man. Sometimes shit just gets in the way and blogging becomes less of a habit. Once you post and start chatting with folk again, though, it can reinvigorate you. I’m going to post today and see if it gets me flowing again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cool, I’ll look out for it mate. yeah I’m trying to get back into the flow of it, its not that I don’t have the time, its just sometimes I have zero motivation to write. Stupid thing is I KNOW that when I sit down and start, everything will flow, but sometimes its so hard to get started! I’ve been working on my book for four years, and it isn’t even a full-length novel! I’ve set a goal of trying to finish the first finished draft by the end of the year. Don’t suppose you’ve read any of it have you? Its a true story written like fiction, kinda, I treat myself as the main character who is writing all this crazy shit that is happening in this rehab facility I went to, which was some sort of religious sect. Would love to hear your thoughts on that man, if you get the time to read it 🙂 I’m five chapters in so far, I need to up the pace if I wanna meet my goal!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, even when I’ve got the time to write, I struggle to get in the mood as well. Man, sometimes I even finish a review and still don’t post it, simply because I know it takes work to even keep up with comments. Lol

        Had no idea you were writing a novel (unless I’ve forgotten you’d mentioned it). Is it on your blog?

        Like

      • Yeah I feel ya, I haven’t been in the mood to write all month really.

        And yeah, there is a bit at the top-right of my page that says my book 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • As it goes, I’ve rattled out a few reviews and feature posts since we last spoke. You could actually be my muse LOL. 😉

        Cool, bro! I’ll have a look at your site and give it read! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cool man I’d love to hear your take on it. And I’m glad that I could help you out! 😀 I’ll go have a read

        Liked by 1 person

  9. It did feel overlong to me. The girl annoyed me. I remembered her being more likeable from when i read the book as a kid. I did love the scene when they’re in the dream tree. Rylance is superb too.

    Liked by 1 person

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