After the success of last years ‘Bridge of Spies’ Steven Spielberg reunites with, now Oscar winner, Mark Rylance to take on Roald Dahl’s beloved classic, ‘The BFG’. I can’t say that I am a massive fan of this story, sure I watched the animated version as a child but I still felt rather indifferent to the whole thing in the lead up to its release. Coupled with the fact that I didn’t enjoy ‘Bridge of Spies’ I wondered if Spielberg had lost his touch for me.
Let’s talk about the main man himself first, no not Spielberg, the BFG. What a really wonderful character to watch and to be the centre of this story. Mark Rylance was brilliant here, he nails the fantastical language created by Dahl for his novel, giving the BFG one of his most endearing qualities. Anytime that he is speaking it’s a joy to listen him spew the skewed words that he comes out with and makes what would be very normal conversations incredibly entertaining. Alongside Rylance the other lead star is Ruby Barnhill who plays orphan Sophie. Barnhill was also great, easily convincing the audience of Sophie’s old head on young shoulders personality. Thanks to a confident performance from her the chemistry that the pair have is really special and a treat to watch. The special effects employed here also help with this as there is no doubt in the mind of the viewers that the BFG really is a giant and he towers far above Sophie. The detail that is created in his design is so intricate and the quality that is on show here means that any potential barriers to the chemistry are easily overcome.
The narrative is at its strongest when it focuses on the relationship between the BFG and Sophie and thankfully this is the case for the majority of the film. There is a shift in the tone in the final act of the movie, this makes room for more comedy. This comedy does work but it results in a disruption to the flow of the film which was really good up to this point. This shift is essential for the overall narrative and it is enjoyable so it’s not really a negative. I think what I enjoyed most about this movie though was that the main character development was that of the BFG and not Sophie. Through this the film looks at various themes including bullying, bravery and overcoming the past. There are really solid messages included here and they are portrayed in a natural way rather than a preachy one. So whilst I was slightly concerned that Spielberg had lost his touch I was blissfully proved wrong. Spielberg manages to sweep his audience up into the magical world of ‘Giant Country’ full of beautiful animation and heart-warming narrative.
Probably the best family film of the year so far ‘The BFG’ was a delight. Rylance embodied the friendly nature of the BFG so well making the audience wish he would snatch us from our beds at night and take us dream catching. Barnhill is perfect for creating the character necessary for the BFG to bounce off and delivers a lovely dynamic between the pair. The narrative does run into a bit of bother in the final act of the movie but the enormous heart that the film has easily makes up for this. I wish I had the imagination of Dahl’s to make up a wonderful phrase to describe the film but thankfully I don’t have to as the BFG has that well covered.
Rating – 9/10
Question: Will Spielberg ever make a classic to the level of ‘Jaws’, ‘Jurassic Park’ or ‘Raiders’ again?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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