On the face of it, Roald Dahl and Steven Spielberg are a match made in heaven. One of the greatest and most prolific children’s storytellers coupled with one of the most accomplished and popular family filmmakers of all-time – its amazing that the two names haven’t shared space on a film poster before now. Spielberg’s adaptation of Dahl’s beloved 1982 classic therefore feels like a no-brainer.
The story of a friendly, vegetable-guzzling, dream-catching giant and his friendship with a young orphan girl is simply magical. Spielberg lifts said-magic off the page and splashes it onto the big screen with ease, giving us a visually sumptuous take on the story. The CG interpretations of the giants and their home of Giant Country are imaginative and inventive, whilst the script packs in plenty of inventive wonder, magic and silliness. The script, adapted by the late Melissa Mathieson (E.T. the Extra Terrestrial), doesn’t cut any of the darker aspects from the book out either, and even adds in a nice (but sad) additional bit of backstory for the titular giant.
Suffice to say, the real triumph here is Mark Rylance’s BFG, a fully-formed and magical character, bought to stunning life by both Rylance and the visual effects team. Its a powerful, lovable and beautifully nuanced performance, which is perfectly pitched at every turn. Elsewhere, Ruby Barnhill’s vulnerable but spirited Sophie is the perfect compliment to Rylance, one that could have been grating but thankfully isn’t thanks to the talents of both actress and director.
The BFG isn’t faultless however. Whilst being loyal to the source material is one of the film’s strongpoints, the rather rushed climax from the book sadly lets the film down. You would have thought that Spielberg would have fleshed out key moments somewhat in the translation from book to film, but no. A bit more peril and tension in the final act would not have gone amiss, but alas, like the book, the film is a tad too hasty in finishing up.
But this issue aside, there is still plenty to enjoy, from the wonderful performances and gorgeous visuals right through to John William’s inspired score. The BFG is a wonderful story to begin with, and it’s bought to life on the big screen with such love and care by Mr. Speilberg that you can’t help but fall in love with the whole affair. A perfect family film for the summer!
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