I love the work of Steven Spielberg; I think he is responsible for some of the greatest films ever made. So I was extremely excited when I heard that he would be directing a live action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, The BFG, even though this was a book I have not read for a long time.
And if I am honest then this wasn’t a film that I loved. I think the reason that Spielberg directed this was to capture the sense of wonder that so many of his films have. Jurassic Park, ET, and others are filled with those incredible scenes that absolute capture the viewer, with the first time seeing the Dinosaurs in Jurassic Park the one that will always stay with me. And I think Spielberg does manage to bring that incredible wonder to the screen at times here. There are some truly stunning visual moments, almost all of which occur in the giant country sections of the film. The one that really stood out here was the dream catching sequence, that looked so beautiful and use of the bright vibrant colours against the night. I also have to give huge credit to the visual effects guys, they made the giants look breathtakingly fantastic, and each had their own unique mannerisms in the way their bodies moved.
But I did have issues with the film. They start with the fact that I don’t think that The BFG has ever been Roald Dahl’s strongest story. It certainly doesn’t come close to the brilliance of Fantastic Mr Fox or Charlie and The Chocolate Factory for me. I thought that the stuff in Giant Country was really good and cool. However I quickly lost interest when they go back into the real world for a long period of time near the end of the film, which was actually the part of the book that is forgotten. The story as a whole is a little slow paced, it could do with being an hour and a half rather than about 2 hours. It dragged for me at times, but a lot of the kids in the cinema actually enjoyed a lot of the extended humorous moments, and they are really the target audience for the film.
Alongside the visuals the other really impressive thing was Mark Rylance’s performance as the titular Big Friendly Giant. I’m so excited about his collaborations with Spielberg that have already produced an acting Oscar, and will continue in the up coming Ready Player One. Alongside him was Ruby Barnhill who plays Sophie, the girl who befriends the BFG. She reminded me of the girl who played Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia, especially The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. She clearly has talent, although could be a little annoying at times, but for a young actor gave a good performance. There weren’t really any other performances in the film that stood out to me, either good or bad; they were all just kind of fine.
Now, maybe it’s because I have such huge expectations of Steven Spielberg and his frequent collaborator, John Williams, but I always want to fall in love with the soundtrack when these two work together. They have produced so many of the greatest movie soundtracks ever, and I want it to stay with me when I leave the cinema, especially in a film like The BFG. But it just didn’t. It’s might be a decent score, but I wanted Jurassic Park or Jaws from this, and I just didn’t get anything close to that level.
So the BFG wasn’t a film that I really loved or got that invested in, but then I think the target audience of this film were younger kids. And the younger audience in the cinema seemed to really enjoy the film. I think the wondrous elements hit, as did the humour. So whilst I might give it lower if I was just talking about my enjoyment of this film, that isn’t fair, this is a film designed for kids and I think it works for kids.
We were going to see it the other day but decided against it given the general mood about it online – this review only makes me more secure in that decision! Such a shame, I adored the book as a kid and Tom and I both had such high expectations.
From what I’ve seen today I think I liked it a bit less than most. But it’s definitely aimed at a younger audience.