The BFG is a charming nostalgic adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1982 children’s book of the same name, directed by none other than Steven Spielberg. It follows the story of a young orphan girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who is kidnapped by the kind BFG (Mark Rylance) and taken to his home of Giant Country. Bullied by the other giants there, the BFG – otherwise known as the Big Friendly Giant – lives in a cave by himself. His only joy is his job: dream catching, which he dispenses to children across the globe. Unfortunately, the other giants like to eat these children, and once they catch wind of Sophie, the hunt is on. Sophie and the BFG must come up with a plan to stop them not only eating her, but the other children of England too.
Having grown up on Roald Dahl as a child, I was very excited to see one of my favourite books turned into film; Spielberg did not disappoint. The sentimentality often included in Spielberg’s films is very resonant here, with John Williams providing a characteristically beautiful score that gives the film a child-like type of wonder. Audiences that enjoyed the Harry Potter scores will love this.
It’s not only the music that’s inspiring; the CGI and motion-capture used to create the BFG is incredible, with exceptional detail made to the giant’s facial expressions. In my opinion, he is one of the most believable looking and acting CGI characters I’ve ever seen. Extra praise has to be given to Mark Rylance who really brings him to life; not solely through voice, but through the gentleness and sweetness he gives to a creature which could have been presented in a less empathetic way. It’s really heart-warming to see.
Yet, as with all films, there are some issues. The plot is a little slow, with the pace particularly dragging in the middle. The ending comes abruptly and is a little anti-climactic, but those who have read the books – those who know of Dahl’s work already – know that the book itself also ends rather unexpectedly, so it’s not exactly a surprise.
The main antagonist giant – Fleshlumpeater (played by Jemaine Clement) – has clearly had the most work using CGI. Hence, he is the most realistic looking of all of the giants, excluding the BFG himself. The other giants look like poor caricatures of people, with little detail focusing on their expressions, clothing, and personalities. Additionally, Ruby Barnhill’s acting can be wooden and forced at times, but I feel like this is often the case with child actors, especially ones that are starring in their first major film. These things can be distracting, but they’re not too much to detract from the general delight of the film.
Overall, I really enjoyed The BFG. My expectations were high and they were nearly matched. I would recommend anybody who enjoyed the book or the animated film – or anybody who likes fantasy films in general – to give this a try. It really is magical.
Written by Beth Harrington