"The BFG" stars Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilson, Rebecca Hall, and Jemaine Clement. Released on July 1, 2016, the film is about a young girl who befriends a giant who, unlike the other giants, is filled with kindness and heart.
The film is directed by Steven Spielberg, who has directed a lot of films including the Indiana Jones films, Jurassic Park, E.T., and Bridge of Spies. It is based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl is known for bringing plenty of imaginative stories to life, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and of course, The BFG. I grew up watching the film adaptations of these children's books, but I wasn't that familiar with the BFG. This marks the second film adaptation of The BFG, with the first being the 1989 animated version that was made for television. So in the midst of talking fishes, gorillas, and murderous criminals during the Fourth of July weekend, how does this film stack up?
The story in this latest adaptation plays out almost like a storybook. A young orphan girl named Sophie (played by newcomer Ruby Barnhill) was taken away to Giant Country by a friendly giant known as…well, the BFG, who is played by Mark Rylance via motion capture. This marks the latest collaboration between Rylance and Spielberg after working together in last year's Oscar nominated film, Bridge of Spies. These two were brilliant together in Bridge of Spies, and this one is no different. Rylance was astounding as the BFG. He's like one of those nice, friendly elders in your neighborhood who is fun to listen to and very supportive. I think he's the perfect actor to portray a character like the BFG. Ruby Barnhill also did a nice job portraying Sophie, even though it's her first time acting in a big-budget movie. The CGI in this film, especially the look of the giants, were handled marvelously. It truly brings out the magic and imagination that Disney and Spielberg were known for. From the majesty of Giant Country to the fairy-like dreams that flew around like fireflies during the nighttime, the look and feel of the film is represented beautifully thanks to the power of CGI. Of course, the film does have its meaningful themes like friendship and bravery, which were handled really well in terms of how they tell the story.
However, the narrative flow of the film can be a bit troubling at times. What I mean is that the film looks like another family-friendly adventure by the minds of Disney, but it somehow acts like a Steven Spielberg film. The first act does seem to kept the pace going, but the rest of the film had a few slow parts to boot. They're not painfully slow, but they're slow enough to lose the attention spans of the very little ones, even though it is rated PG.
Overall, despite some of its pacing issues, "The BFG" offers a big, friendly gesture that captures the magic, imagination, and adventure. It's not as memorable nor as breathtaking as Spielberg's other family films like E.T., but as its own, it is a remarkable adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel, thanks to some impressive performances and its brilliant use of CGI. If you're a fan of the source material, then you're going to like this one a lot. It also serves as a good backup to take your kids to in case Finding Dory sells out again this weekend.