REVIEW: The BFG (2016)

Theatrical Release Poster - Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Theatrical Release Poster – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The following is a review of The BFG – Directed by Steven Spielberg.

The BFG follows a little orphan girl – Sophie (played by Ruby Barnhill) – who is abducted by a mysterious giant (played by Mark Rylance) after she spots him in the dark streets outside her window. Thankfully, he is a ‘Big Friendly Giant’ who, unlike other giants, doesn’t eat people. Sophie soon finds out that her new friend needs help confronting the man-eating giants that have been bullying him.

Okay, so, I didn’t grow up with Roald Dahl’s stories. Sure, I had heard of some of them. I had seen some of the films that were based on his stories. However, his stories aren’t the ones I loved as a kid. They aren’t the ones that I hold near and dear to my heart. That’s not a problem, though. Actually, I think that helps me look at this as more than just a film trying to recapture the magic some people might have found in the original story.

One of the reasons why Steven Spielberg is such a great director is his ability to master the transporting element of the moviegoing experience. With great family films, for example, Spielberg is often able to make us really feel the magic of a film’s character, it’s relationship, and it’s world. But, if I’m being honest, The BFG didn’t do that for me.

While I’m certainly not the target audience for this film, I normally don’t need to be with Spielberg. His family films usually work for just about every member of a family. And while this film really tried, it didn’t transport me to Giant Country, it didn’t put a smile on my face the way I wanted it to, and I thought it was really underwhelming. The BFG is just okay.

There are three things about this film that are great, though. There is some really great use of CGI here, the BFG character looks spectacularly. I actually really liked Ruby Barnhill, who played Sophie. And, finally, I thought Mark Rylance did a fantastic job as the titular character. You really feel the warmth of his character in his performance.

So, yeah, there are some things in this film that really work. But even one of the great things about the film – the CGI – didn’t completely work for me. Sure, there has been a lot of really great work done. The visual effects team deserves a lot of credit, but that was the only transporting element in the first half of the film.

You see, I thought the first half of the film progressed with a really slow pace. Now, that would’ve been fine to me if the film culminated in a great final sequence in which our main characters deal with the man-eating giants, but I thought that sequence just flew by. I found myself sitting there just asking myself: “Was that all? That’s it?”

The BFG wasn’t made for me. I’m sure some kids might really enjoy this movie, but I don’t think this movie is going to work for every member of the family. It’s a pretty underwhelming Spielberg film that doesn’t manage to properly transport you the world of Roald Dahl, and the only sequence I thought was memorable, at all, was the one featuring Penelope Wilton’s character.

6 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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