Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
|Featuring:||Bill Hader … Bloodbottler
Rebecca Hall … Mary
Mark Rylance … The BFG
Jemaine Clement … Fleshlumpeater
Matt Frewer … General #2
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson … Actor (Ólafur Ólafsson)
Rafe Spall …
Penelope Wilton … The Queen
Adam Godley …
Ruby Barnhill … Sophie
Michael Adamthwaite …
Walt Disney Pictures
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
Yet another book from children’s author Roald Dahl gets the big screen treatment in Steven Spielberg’s take on The BFG. The story revolves around a precocious young orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who is whisked away by a nameless giant (voiced by Mark Rylance) one dark and dreary night in the city of London. However, this particular giant doesn’t intend to harm Sophie. He merely scooped her up, because he was afraid she would tell everyone that a giant was roaming the streets of London, causing him to be hunted down. Of course, Sophie is frightened, at first, but the giant’s warm personality begins to grow on her, and she eventually gives him the name “BFG” or Big Friendly Giant. BFG shares with Sophie that a young child once called him “The Big Friendly Giant,” in the past. But there are other giants in Giant Country that aren’t nearly as friendly.
BFG and Sophie begin to form a strong friendship, but the other bigger and meaner giants discover that BFG has brought a human into their land and are now bent on having a little snack. BFG may be smaller than the rest of the bunch, but he has a much larger heart and has an endearing companion in Sophie, as they seek peace and restoration in the fantastical Giant Country.
“The BFG” is a fun, magical family-friendly adventure and a welcome return from director Steven Spielberg. Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is beautifully executed (as always), and Michael Khan’s editing is near flawless, as we weave through the grass filled lands of Giant Country. The visuals are stunning, and John Williams does not disappoint with a whimsical, touching musical score. Mark Rylance fits the role of BFG very well, and the giants, in general, are near life-like, thanks to the continuing advance of CGI technology. However, the screenplay feels weak, at times, and the story in general does not flow quite as smoothly as I had hoped, as some small plot holes arose and other elements are not clearly explained. This is not Spielberg’s best work, in terms of directing, but it is still a fun adventure that is well-executed on a technical level.
There is very minimal content for concern in “The BFG.” There isn’t any sexual content, and the closest we even get is seeing a shirtless, animated giant. There is no profanity, but there is some mild name calling, including multiple uses of the word “runt” and a “curse you” comment. BFG bungles up words frequently and comes up with his own exclamations. The film isn’t violent, but does have its perilous moments and bits of action. One giant attempts to eat a child, but does not succeed. We find out that it was just a dream. The bigger giants have some violent names like Bone Cruncher, Blood Bottler, etc., and BFG gets bullied and pushed around by them whenever they cross paths. They like to toss him around and one giant gets hit in the groin when BFG is thrown directly at him. The giants later smash things in his home in search of Sophie, but BFG later wards them off with a form of fireplace poker, lightly burning a couple of them in the process. There is mention of a young boy being eaten by a giant, Sophie jumps off a balcony trusting BFG to catch her, and buckets of water get tossed at giants. ***SPOILER*** Sophie devises a plan to remove the mean giants from Giant Country and gets the British military involved. We see them carry muskets and aim at BFG. The mean giants eventually get tied up and airlifted to a secluded island. They are dropped in the ocean (they loathe water) and get bombarded by a fruit that they absolutely hate. ***END SPOILER***
There is no drug content and no alcohol consumption on screen. However, we do see a few drunken men stumble out of a pub late at night. Sophie reprimands them while yelling out of her window. There is some light rude humor, as BFG has a favorite fizzy drink of his where the bubbles float down instead of up. After taking a swig, he has what he calls a “whiz popper” and shoots up into the air, and we see a green gas protruding from him. This happens one more time, but at the queen’s home. They all end up having a group “whiz popper.” In the distance, two men, in particular, shoot up into the air and lose their trousers in the process.
Being a fantasy film, “The BFG” contains some magical elements. BFG’s “job” is to capture dreams from a magical forest and collect both good and bad dreams. He has different dream potions and sometimes combines numbers of dreams together. BFG walks through the streets of London and blows these dreams into various homes with a form of trumpet. People inhale the dreams while they’re asleep. Although BFG collects bad dreams, as well, he doesn’t use them to hurt anyone but to help them. One example is giving the bully giants a bad dream to help them realize how mean they have been. “Dreams are quick on the outside, but long on the inside,” says BFG. There is a reference to “the witching hour” and another character utters, “Let there be no forgiveness,” which may be somewhat problematic for some viewers.
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” —1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)
And BFG applies the above verse well, since he wants to have no part in the other giants’ wrongdoings. He sticks to his morals and finds good, better company within his relationship with Sophie. The BFG applauds friendship, trust, and courage as our two heroines bond closer together throughout their adventure, learn to trust one another, and face even the most perilous of situations. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 shares “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” This helps us further define Sophie’s character, as she encourages BFG by telling him he speaks beautifully, despite his small speech impediment. She also encourages BFG to stand up to the mean giants.
Little Sophie may be the most daring and bravest one in this adventure, but The BFG shares that, no matter how big or small one may be, he or she can make a great difference in this world and be a hero. Our heroines stay strong, courageous, and persevere. “The BFG” is an enchanting family-friendly film that I recommend for around ages 7+, since smaller ones may be frightened by some of the large giants and scary situations. After all, this is a fantasy film. “The BFG” may have light, murky magical elements, some brief rude humor, and even feel a tad dark and dreary at times, but it shines a bright light on the value of friendship and coming to the aid of those in need.
Violence: Mild / Language: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…Steven Spielberg creates a landscape of astonishments in “The BFG”… about as good as cinema can do these days… [5/5]
—Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
…a pleasing and sweet-natured adventure… Spielberg gets the tone just right…
—Stephanie Zacharek, Time magazine
…Spielberg and Rylance’s delicate touch proves hugely charming… “The BFG” is big friendly giant of a film from a director who knows how to make films on that note and on that scale. With boldness and sweep…
—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)
…Mr. Spielberg uses digital wizardry to throw dreams of friendship and adventure on the big screen, and what marvelous dreams they are—funny, grotesque and tender, as well as spectacular. …It’s an effervescent charmer.
—Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
…The film’s technical achievements may be complex, but its emotions are facile. …
—Richard Brody,·The New Yorker
…uneven, but finally winning, results… The filmmakers have tweaked Dahl’s original finale to satisfy conventional notions of what constitutes a happy ending. … [2½/4]
—Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
…No matter how fantastical the tale (and it gets pretty out-there at points), this splendid Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation makes it possible for audiences of all ages to wrap their heads around one of the unlikeliest friendships in cinema history, resulting in the sort of instant family classic “human beans” once relied upon Disney to deliver. …
—Peter Debruge, Variety
…Mr. Spielberg has always been a skilled manipulator of feeling. What’s startling here is how clumsy and uncertain his attempts seem. What’s missing, abotve all, is the wild, palpable sense of excitement… There are delights on display, but not many surprises. …
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
…“The BFG” is one of the worst movies of Steven Spielberg’s career… Mark Rylance is a strong, respected actor who deserves so much better than this. …It all feels like a big waste in the end. …[1½/5]
—Matthew Parkinson, The Escapist