"I hears your lonely heart, in all the secret whisperings of the world"
After accidentally spotting a giant wandering the streets one evening a lonely orphan girl finds herself carried away by the creature to his magical homeland. Here it’s revealed he isn’t like most giants and the two strike up a firm friendship while sharing adventures and endeavouring to save this friendly giant from his bigger, meaner counterparts.
Working from a novel by legendary author Roald Dahl, Spielberg has crafted what could easily be considered his truest attempt at a children’s film to date. While previous works like “Hook” and “E.T.” used childlike wonder and discovery as the driving forces of their narratives they still come across as films intended for young and old alike. “The BFG” however is pure children’s entertainment and crafted wonderfully by a man who is truly still a child at heart.
“The BFG” is a relatively simple story, and one that is adapted faithfully by previous Spielberg collaborator Melissa Matheson. This simplicity allows the director to shift his focus from the heavier emotional and character based fares that have been populating his work as of late and concentrate on what is truly is a mater at, visual storytelling. With this film Spielberg constructs a world that seems to have jumped right out of the pages of the book and appears to relish the opportunity to focus his craft on pure visual spectacle while not having to simultaneously service an overly complex narrative. Dipping his toe once again into the world of motion-capture and CGI construction Spielberg has crafted easily one of the best looking films of the year. Finding himself unhindered by the constraints of physical filmmaking, his camera soars through the giant’s world painting a magnificent picture for his audience to revel in.
Newcomer Ruby Barnhill proves indelibly sweet as young orphan Sophie, giving the viewer a nice entry point to the world of the fantastic presented in the film. Her innocence (which may become slightly grating for some towards the end of the film) is contrasted nicely with the charm and conviction of Mark Rylance’s performance as the titular BFG, the second in a continuing spree of wonderful collaborations between him and Spielberg. Rylance, having proved himself a master of the on-screen performance in last years “Bridge of Spies” gives Andy Serkis a run for his money in a motion-capture performance that not only comes across as truly genuine but is full of quirky character nuances that only help lend credibility to the film and the world it’s presenting. Jermaine Clement also proves himself a master of the mo-cap as he works against type here crafting a villain that is simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.
While the world Spielberg has constructed is a marvel to look at, “The BFG” is not without its problems. With a running time of 117 minutes the film begins to drag in it’s back half. With such a simple story to tell it takes an awfully long time to tell it which may leave some audience members, in particular the younger ones, loosing interest somewhat.
While the film may not rank among the many instant classics in Spielberg’s wide and varied filmography it is nice to see him grow as a filmmaker, even at this late stage in his career, and tackle a new style of film that he hasn’t fully attempted yet. “The BFG” is still a highly entertaining (if somewhat forgettable) entry into the resume of one of cinema’s true masters.
7 out of 10.
Reviewed by Chris Swan.