The BFG Review
For his entire career, Steven Spielberg has always been obsessed with the wonder that drives people to the movies. His movies tap into a certain kind of enrichment and mindset and he definitely crafted his own signature over the course of his career. He is drawn to the strange and the wonderment of the strange. It makes him a perfect candidate to adapt Roald Dahl's book "The BFG." A story about a elderly friendly giant who takes an orphaned girl who suffers from insomnia. The girl must stay with the giant because she has seen him. Together, they overcome their fears.
Steven Spielberg is someone who hits a home-run more often than he strikes out. So when a movie comes out that is mediocre, it feels like a failure. Finally seeing the movie, I can see why it was a box office disappointment. I think Spielberg has a much better "BFG" movie in him, but this is definitely not it. I am not quite sure what went wrong in the process. But let me please on the emphasis, "The BFG" is not a bad movie, just not up to par with Spielberg's other filmography. In fact, its not quite up to par with children's films filmography.
First of all, its awfully long for a children's movie, clocking at almost two hours. I don't know if running time plays a huge role when it comes to children, especially if something really grabs their attention. The problem is, I am not sure how much of "The BFG" will be grabbing the attention of many children. Not a whole lot goes on, and the quiet moments between Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and BFG (Mark Rylance) are almost too quiet for any audience member to bear. There is a conflict between BFG and other giants, there are a couple moments of BFG showing off his dream powers, and there is a scene where they go to a magical realm, forest place. Its all breathtaking to look at, but it doesn't do much as far as story or structure are concerned. These are pretty pictures, and I am not trying to say that there is no story here. It just seems there are fragments of a storyline with smaller storylines sprinkled in. It will come off confusing and boring to children.
But like I said, the special effects imagery is off-the-chart, just as you would expect from a Spielberg movie. Its graciously acted by both Mark Rylance and especially by Ruby Barnhill who emerges as a real talent here. Spielberg has proven over his career that he is a master of directing children, and he can pull magic out of the smallest of youngsters. The collaboration between Barnhill and Spielberg is no different. We can feel all the emotions Barnhill puts on display here. We can feel her bewilderment and wonder in the places she is visiting. It is magnificent work. There is also good supporting work done by Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall and Penelope Wilton. The other giants in the movie are also mesmerizing to look at and provide good voice work by their actors. Jemaine Clement, Bill Hader, Daniel Bacon, Chris Gibbs, and Adam Godley all create remarkable characters based on their voices alone.
All the mechanical and technological pieces of the movie are some of the very best work done in any movie so far this year. That coupled with the near-perfect acting makes this movie absolutely worth seeing. It's also a shame that its mostly used for a storyline that is way too convoluted for children and just plain boring for everyone else. Still, even the not-quite-perfect Spielberg is a movie worth your time and attention.
FINAL GRADE: B