Posted Jul 22 2016

The BFG - This Movie Rocks In a Big Way

Dir: Steven Spielberg

Starring Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Bill Hader, Penelope Wilton, Jermaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall 

The BFG is Spielberg’s most digital movie to date. But despite his embracing of such constantly developing forms, it shows the man has lost none of his prowess as a storyteller, both visually and emotionally. As delightful as it is however, it also shows that the man who shaped so many of our childhoods as the preeminent filmmaker of his day should probably now be putting such toys away.

This is meant by no means as a negative comment – The BFG is an immaculately entertaining piece of filmmaking, as emotionally involving as the director ever gets – something he especially elicits in Rylance’s central performance. With the WETA people once again very quietly redefining what can be achieved in virtual filmmaking, it works on every level – even if the London that is at first evoked reeking of the 1950s, actually turns out to be that of the 1980s – Ronnie and Nancy references placing it.

Newcomer Barnhill also evokes the wide-eyed, simplistic performance of screen child actors of old (a good thing) as Sophie, the orphan who finds herself abducted by a big friendly giant with a penchant for spreading dreams. They move to a brilliantly realised Giant Country and the BFG’s own domain where the film plays almost as a two-hander, and where Spielberg is at his best.

Strangely, when the two decamp to Buckingham Palace – replete with a fab Wilton as the Queen and some to be reckoned with corgis – the film ups the fun level, but loses the Spielberg touch. Here it is very clearly a Dahl film – as well it should be. But it’s strange to find so personal a director (and everything the man does, even the Minority Reports, even the Bridges of Spies is distinctly personal) taking a step back.

These are minor quibbles though. The BFG is overall an utter delight. Even if it does hint that the man who blew so many dreams into our own childhood minds is now probably more at home in an adult world.


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