Film review: The BFG

by / Jun. 30, 2016 9am EST

Steven Spielberg has re-teamed with E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison for the slick big screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), and has spent a great deal of Disney dollars playing with CG, perspective, and a large number of anthropomorphic creatures.  Like E.T., Dahl’s story pairs a human child (this time a girl) with an amazing creature (now a giant, but a small one bullied by his larger peers). The film is uneven but never uninteresting to watch, with Spielberg employing his full bag of cinematic tricks, often in an artificial world.  For a good bit of the film’s running time I found the photo-realistic effects distracting, and longed for the more primitive, hand hewn tricks of King Kong, The Three Worlds of Gulliver and even The Indian in the Cupboard, but ultimately I had to admit the effects were quite astonishing, and Spielberg’s use of 3D is the best I’ve seen since Hugo, especially in scenes with human beings conversing on existing sets.  BFG didn’t really work for me until its second half, in which Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) takes her BFF (recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance in an amazing motion capture performance) to the queen’s palace; at this point, gentle whimsy gives way to outright farce.  You’ve never seen cinematic mass flatulence until you’ve seen it choreographed by Spielberg in 3D.  Kids will love The BFG, and adults will appreciate the way Spielberg conducts his orchestra of technical wizards.