DISNEY, SPIELBERG, AND DAHL PERFECTLY BLENDED TOGETHER!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B+ (3 stars)
Sophie and her Giant Friend, The BFG
Wow, it took this long for director, Steven Spielberg (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, The Adventures of Tintin) to direct a feature film for the Disney studio. However, he has worked with Disney before as a producer or executive producer for Disney distributed films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, A Far Off Place, and the movies distributed by his DreamWorks studio during their five-year distribution deal with Disney (although he did direct a few movies in there), but those were under Disney’s Touchstone banner, so, technically not Disney films.
Now he finally directs a movie for Disney, a film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic story, The BFG to follow in the footsteps of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, all of which had film releases. I can’t believe it took them this long to make a movie based on The BFG book because The BFG was the first Roald Dahl book I ever read as a child.
Like his other books, The BFG is dark, quirky, and magical all at the same time, intense but not too intense for children to lose their interest in reading it. The book was well-written and very enjoyable to read in school and even a couple of times at home, so I thought Spielberg was an excellent choice to direct the movie.
I can describe the film adaptation of The BFG is one word…magical! This movie is fueled on magic and imagination, both are elements that Disney and Spielberg are best known for, and I appreciate Spielberg for making children and family movies but put just as much effort into the production as he would with his more mature films to be just as enjoyable to adults as well as kids. The chemistry, set design, color, shadows, cinematography, and special effects are absolutely marvelous, but I guess I can pretty much expect that from the man who brought dinosaurs back to life.
The film follows a little girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill-4 O’clock Club) who is an orphan living in an orphanage in England. Until one night she encounters a giant walking around the streets and hiding from the “Beings” and he takes her away from the orphanage to the magical world of Giant Land.
At first Sophie thinks the giant is going to eat her, but she soon discovers that the giant is a wide-eyed, innocent giant who prefers not to eat humans and he has been given the name, the Big Friendly Giant or BFG (Mark Rylance-The Other Boleyn Girl, Anonymous, Bridge of Spies). BFG and Sophie become friends and he shows her where dreams come from and how dreams are brought to the sleeping humans of the world, he comes in to the human world late at night and blows the dream out of his trumpet and into the sleeping person.
Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games as BFG and Sophie encounter more giants that are not so friendly and plot to capture all the children in England, bring them to Giant Land, and inevitably eat them. So, it’s up to Sophie and BFG to warn the Queen of England (Penelope Wilton-Match Point, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Belle) that giants are coming for the children and they must save the children before they become a “Giant” buffet.
Overall, The BFG delivers everything I love about Steven Spielberg, Disney, and Roald Dahl, magic, quirky situations, whimsy, dark elements, and strong characters. Not to mention it’s some of the things I look for in good family films and this is one of those films, I guarantee adults will have just as much fun with this movie as their kids.
It doesn’t talk down to the kids and try to be hip, it tells an unusual but heartwarming friendship and the weird things they encounter on their journey, very much like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, although I don’t consider it better than E.T., because that film is a masterpiece.
The movie is visually stunning all the way through and I’m not just talking about Giant Land, even in England, the camera work, lighting, and shadows are amazing. It’s not as impressive as the Jurassic Park dinosaurs but the effects on BFG and the giants are incredible and he’s obviously CGI but I was almost convinced that Mark Rylance was actually the size of a giant.
I haven’t read the book in years so I don’t remember much about it but the film did step into familiar territory, all the way down to the design of BFG, he looks exactly like the character from the book but brought to life.
I’m not expecting this film to win a Best Picture Oscar®, but visually it’s definitely a contender for Best Visual Effects, something Steven Spielberg is usually always fantastic at. He captures the magic of the story, Disney, and especially his own films.
The BFG is a captivating and beautiful adventure for the entire family of all sizes, Beings, giants, or otherwise.