Hot Take: Spielberg is a master behind the camera and now, for the second film in a row, Mark Rylance is his secret weapon. It might be big budget kid’s fare but darn if it isn’t entertaining and wonderfully acted.
In the hands of Steven Spielberg, you can expect good things. The 1982 children’s story The BFG is the latest to get the Spielberg touch. The Roald Dahl children’s story which features a young girl who befriends a big, friendly giant and whisks away to Giant Country and Dream Country before the young girl, Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) comes up with a plan to help the BFG (a CGI-enhanced Mark Rylance) rid himself of his bigger brethren who both pick on BFG and happen to munch on children in their spare time. The story itself is purely juvenile with discussions of snozzcumbers (a foul-tasting vegetable grown in Giant Country), frobscottle (a bubbly concoction), whiz poppers (the flatulence caused by drinking frobscottle) and a number of other uniquely pronounced words specific to the BFG’s bungling of them.
The big-budget children’s movie is filled with marvelous imagery. There is rarely a time where you think what you’re seeing couldn’t be real despite the fact that the BFG is five times the size of Sophie. It comes as no surprise that Spielberg stretches out the film to nearly two hours as the magical images stretch on a little longer than necessary but it’s hard to blame him with the way everything looks that he might want to spend a few more minutes in this world of wonder and whimsy.
I guess the only knock on The BFG is since it’s saccharin sweet in presentation, the stakes never really feel all that high. At some point in these types of films, there is a point where you start to question whether or not the protagonists will find a happy ending even if you know there’s actually really no chance of a disappointing ending for them. In The BFG, there’s never that moment of dread. While there are perilous moments, there’s never any doubt our heroes will come through.
Despite these flaws, The BFG is fantastic kid’s fare. It might be a little too much for the youngest crowd (especially at the two hour time frame) but most kids should like if not love the movie. For adults, especially those familiar with the children’s book, there’s enough to keep the interest of those who chaperone the trip to the cinema.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
One thing that is ever present in The BFG is the tender, loving care Spielberg gives to the subject matter. The movie just oozes with passion. Spielberg has professed his love for the children’s book and there’s no doubting the authenticity of that proclamation.
- The Relationship Between Sophie and BFG
Brought to life by yet another remarkable performance from Mark Rylance and the auspicious début of Ruby Barnhill, Sophie and BFG form a memorable and rather adorable friendship that is unlikely to be erased.
- Dream Country
The images of Dream Country are some of the most spectacular in the film.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Can Young Children Sit For That Long?
The real challenge of The BFG isn’t in the requirement of a suspension of disbelief but whether or not children, especially very young children, will be able to make it through the nearly two hour film without losing interest. The film doesn’t always rely on fantastic imagery to carry the audience’s attention and in those moments, if fatigue has set in, some children may be left behind.