The creative mix for new fantasy film The BFG is about as magical a recipe for movie success as you can have. Take three major brands like Disney, Steven Spielberg and Roald Dahl and you have a kid-friendly flick that should delight families everywhere. In fact, as I say in my video review above, it is rather astounding to note that Spielberg has never before directly made a movie for Disney, a surprise since those two brands are probably the best known in terms of family-oriented movies that click at the box office. In reality, Spielberg has been off doing other kinds of films in recent years so this one marks a return to a genre for which he still has the magic touch in a refreshingly old-fashioned way.
The BFG also represents a poignant reunion of Spielberg and his E.T. The Extra Terrestrial screenwriter, the late Melissa Mathison, who sadly passed away before the film was made. Although this movie is not quite in that league (what possibly could be?), it will do quite nicely against louder, flashier summer fare and should appeal particularly to the younger members of the family. Dahl, whose books run the gamut from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory to Matilda, knows how to weave enchanting tales, and I imagine it was the book itself that got Spielberg to sign on here. It has been faithfully brought to the screen and also continues the relationship between the director and his star, Mark Rylance, who won the Oscar in February for Spielberg’s superb Bridge Of Spies, my favorite film of 2015. You couldn’t have a wilder swing in roles for this accomplished stage actor than playing the BFG, which stands for Big Friendly Giant.
The plot actually is pretty simple. Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is a young girl snatched from her orphanage by the hands of the kindhearted BFG and whisked away to Giant Country, a place populated by humongous children-eating giants not at all friendly to the human race. BFG doesn’t fit in with this crowd because he is the nice one of the bunch, a dream lover who mutters and mangles the language as he forges a relationship with Sophie and attempts to keep her hidden from his brethren. Eventually, he and Sophie make a trip to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen (Penelope Wilton) and try to talk her into doing something about getting rid of the awful giants. That sequence is the film’s best, a complete delight with a delicious performance from Wilton.
Barnhill is a young charmer herself, but the movie ultimately belongs to the collaboration between Rylance and the CGI special effects wizards behind the scenes who bring his character to life. It really is a remarkable creation, this BFG, because unlike many other films of its ilk Rylance is not lost under the look and you genuinely see his “human” qualities come out, especially in the eyes. Forty years ago, Spielberg famously struggled to make a certain shark come alive on film. He eventually succeeded there, and he has succeeded here with Rylance’s wonderful, most memorable creature.
The rest of the cast is lots of fun too including other giants Fleshlumpeater played by Jemaine Clement and Bloodbottler portrayed by Bill Hader. Of course, production values on the film are first rate, as is the John Williams score which perfectly underlines the action. I think Dahl would be just as enchanted with the results as the audience will be when Disney releases this July 1. Producers are Speilberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer.
Do you plan to see The BFG? Let us know what you think.