I don’t know if it was the book or a cartoon or a TV show or a hand puppet show but I remember really loving the BFG when I was a kid. Hmmm. It couldn’t have been a book because I rarely read on account of me reading slower than the sloths from Zootopia.
Anyway, I was quietly optimistic about Steven Spielberg’s latest family friendly adventure.
As it turns out that optimism was unfounded because the BFG lacks the charm and the magic that I was dearly hoping for and most of this can be laid at the hands of the two main stars; Mark Rylance who plays the BFG and Ruby Barnhill who plays Sophie.
Before you ask how many snozzcumbers I had to guzzle to hallucinate so vividly let me just say that there was nothing wrong with Mark Rylance as the BFG. He looks the part and anyone who saw Rylance absolutely smash it in 2015’s Bridge of Spies will be unsurprised to find out that he is fantastic once again.
The problem is that Steven Spielberg has removed the darker aspects of the BFG such as the children eating. Roald Dahl essentially writes fairy tales and if you look at all the best fairy tales there are often psychotic undercurrents or origins that probably shouldn’t be read to children ironically!
The removal of sweet, delicious, cannibalism means that Spielberg has tried to Disnefy Roald Dahl’s classic by accentuating the fairy part of the tale. In my eyes, Mark Rylance is too drab to be the architect of the fantastical.
The BFG catches dreams atop a huge hill in dream country in one of the most visually stunning moments of the film. He uses said dreams to give young children pleasant nights sleep. Very sweet but Rylance’s portrayal doesn’t hold the magic that the character suggests.
I think Sophie was even worse. I found Ruby Barnhill actually quite annoying and really you could have replaced her with almost any young well spoken British person and I wouldn’t have noticed.
it’s not all bad. There are fun moments. Seeing the other cannibal-not-cannibal giants playing with buses and cars like there were Matchbox toys or roller skates was only surpassed by an evening meal with the queen. A meal that featured a pitchfork a billion fried eggs and a bottle of frobscottle which induces more flatulence than a night of Dominos pizza and Stella Artois.
Of course the real star of the show is the script. I don’t remember the BFG well enough to say if this was thanks to Roald Dahl’s original story or whether it’s thanks to Melissa Matheson who wrote the screenplay. Either way it’s absolutely fantastic. Mispronunciation of every other word makes the BFG instantly adorable.
Unfortunately the film was waaay too long to keep my attention so I question how well younger viewers will fare. More importantly; the length of the film makes it feel less focused and therefore less magical so with the darkness glossed over The BFG feels flat. Perhaps if Guillermo Del Toro had directed this could have been spectacular.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Fantastic script
+ On screen Queen scene
+ Dream catching
– Darker would have been nicer
– Way too long