Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Melissa Mathison
Cast: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilson, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, and Bill Hader
Synopsis: A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
Looking back, I have actually never read Roald Dahl’s The BFG, which is a shame because I know a lot of people my age that have and have loved it. So I feel like I’m missing out, but reading other Dahl’s work I’m sure the world is as great as his other works like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda.” While there is another version of The BFG out there, another version with Steven Spielberg had been kicking around Hollywood, but it wasn’t until now that they decided to pull the trigger and bring us a great world and filled with two great characters. Not only that, this is the last film screenwriter Melissa Mathison – she also did E.T. – worked on before she sadly passed away.
The BFG follows Sophie, played by newcomer Ruby Barnhill, an orphan living in London, who one night spots a giant (Oscar winner Mark Rylance) outside her window. The giant, also spotting her, snatches her away and takes her to Giant Country. While there, she tries to escape but soon realizes that the giant isn’t as bad as stories have them to be, and eventually calls him “BFG” for Big Friendly Giant. Not only that, BFG is the runt of a band of brothers that are massively bigger than him, and are cannibalistic. Sophie, seeing the good in BFG, tries to devise a plan to stop the other giants and help The BFG’s life.
While I did enjoy The BFG, there is a pacing issue right smack dab in the middle of the film, and the final big moment of the film between Sophie, BFG, and the other giants is a bit anti-climatic for me. However, what keeps the film going is definitely the chemistry between leads Barnhill and Rylance. The two are unbelievable together and are truly the best part of the whole film.
Rylance became a bit of a household name after nabbing the Oscar for his work in Bridge of Spies (also directed by Spielberg), and is once again magnificent here as BFG. Even under all the CGI, Rylance gives a great performance, and kudos goes to Barnhill, making her film debut in not just a big budget Hollywood film, but a Spielberg film at that. Most of film is the two interacting with each other and BFG showing her what he does for a living of collecting dreams. That is where Spielberg ups the fantasy aspect and leads to some great shots of Sophie running around chasing small colorful orbs.
The mean giants, which all have weird names like Bloodbottler, Bonecruncher, Childchewer, Gizzardgulper, Meatdripper, Butcher Boy, and the leader of the group Fleshlumpeater (voiced by Jemaine Clement), don’t get a ton of screen time, so when it comes to them, they are arguably one of the weaker parts of the film. The rest of the human supporting cast comes in the form of Penelope Wilton playing The Queen, her head of security Mr. Tibbs (Spall) and assistant Mary (Hall). All of them play their part well, and are involved in one of the best and humorous scenes of the film.
All in all, The BFG is a great magical adventure that is held together by leads Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. The film does have some pacing some issues but overall, The BFG is a great time to be had.
4 out of 5