Steven Spielberg seems to going full circle in his career. He is going back to the type of films he loved to make when he was younger; the type of kids’ films that made him famous. The BFG is closer to E.T. than Lincoln, that’s for sure. But it’s easily Spielberg’s oddest film to date, even though it does deliver the goods that we expect from his unique brand of storytelling. It’s a gamble that will pay off for some, however it is certainly not for everyone.
Ten-year-old Sophie (newcomer Ruby Barnhill) is in for the adventure of a lifetime when she meets the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance). Naturally scared at first, the young girl soon realizes that the 24-foot behemoth is actually quite gentle and charming. As their friendship grows, Sophie’s presence attracts the unwanted attention of Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater and other giants. After traveling to London, Sophie and the BFG must convince Queen Victoria to help them get rid of all the bad giants once and for all.
The visuals of this film are nothing short of spectacular. This is the most CGI-driven film of Spielberg’s since Minority Report. The motion capture and animation of the actual BFG is pretty great. The movie looks absolutely stunning, like all of Spielberg’s work.
Where the story shines is in its character moments between Sophie and the BFG. Mark Rylance is quite possibly the best actor of our time and really sells the part.
I really can’t seem to shake how odd this story is. I never read the book so I went in blind to the screening. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything less from a Roald Dahl adaptation (he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda). I guess I just expected it to be a bit more mainstream since Spielberg was involved.
There is a scene where the film’s silliness comes to fruition. I won’t spoil it, but to the best of my knowledge, this is Spielberg’s first foray into flatulence humor. It had me laughing harder than I possibly ever have while in a movie theater. I was crying I was laughing so hard. So, there’s that to look forward to.
The BFG mostly works. It is a fun adventure with a super satisfying third act/payoff. I took my daughter who had read the book and she just loved it. I think most people will have an enjoyable experience in watching it, but be warned that it is a very odd story. I look forward to seeing it again, and I imagine that when I do my overall opinion of it will go up.