Friday, July 1, 2016

Movie Review: "The BFG"

Director Steven Spielberg has created yet another masterpiece, with this one being a gentle adaptation of Roald Dahl's kid lit book, The BFG.  The BFG is nothing short of brilliant, with imagination on display at every turn.

The movie follows the titular Big Friendly Giant (or BFG as he comes to be known), as he befriends a human girl named Sophie and whisks her away to giant country, where the BFG is the runt of a litter of larger, more violent giants.  Throughout the course of the movie you really get to know Sophie and the BFG, with the two of them forging a friendship due to their shared circumstances.  Both are lonely souls who others think less of, and in the eyes of each other, they discover what it means to be a better human "bean," as the BFG would put it.

Newcomer Ruby Barnhill plays Sophie with wide-eyed wonder and sass, immediately making Sophie an adorable heroine you want to root for.   Then there is recent Oscar winner, and current Spielberg muse, Mark Rylance, stealing each scene he's in as the BFG.  Rylance has this uncanny ability to convey deep wells of emotion with nothing other than his eyes.  He truly is a marvel to watch onscreen, and when you go from his work in Bridge of Spies to his work as the BFG, you see a completely different actor.  The BFG is a warm and gentle soul lacking in bravery, who only wants to help deliver the dreams he catches up in dream country to sleeping people.  Perhaps the greatest marvel of this movie though, is the fact that the special effects manage to make us believe that Ruby Barnhill is interacting with a twenty-four foot tall Mark Rylance.

Through the use of CGI and motion capture work, the special effects crew manage to capture every element of Mark Rylance's performance and make it writ large.  I have seen many movies that try to show us giants interacting with humans, but there is often an odd feeling to the difference in scale.  I never had that feeling with The BFG.  I truly believed that Sophie and the BFG were there together in every scene, and that allows the magic spell of this movie to be cast.

When you get right down to it, The BFG is not an in your face adventure movie, it's a rather simple bedtime story.  There's not a lot of violence, nor are there any real scares (except for when the BFG is bullied by his fellow giants), and the crudest thing the movie has within it is the greatest farting scene I've ever seen in a movie.  The BFG is easily Spielberg's most child appropriate movie he's ever made.  It is sweet, funny, and will have your imagination in overdrive the entire time.  Couple the gorgeous images from longtime Spielberg cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, with the beautiful musical score by John Williams, and the great script by the late E.T. scribe, Melissa Mathison,  and you've got another Spielberg classic.  Will it be remembered as fondly as E.T. or Raiders of the Lost Ark?  Probably not, but it could very well be on the same plain as Spielberg movies like Hook and War Horse, which is not bad company to share.

I give The BFG a 9 out of 10!

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