The BFG, released in 2016 by Walt Disney Studios and directed by Steven Spielberg, was a film that I regrettably missed on the first time around.
Based on the Roald Dahl book by the same name, the plot focuses on the friendship that builds between a young orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and a twenty-four foot giant named the Big Friendly Giant (voiced by Mark Rylance). The BFG takes Sophie to his home in Giant Country, where she learns the ins and outs of the life of a giant. This includes dealing with the threat of man-eating giants in Giant Country, all of whom have goofy names like Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) and Bloodbottler (Bill Hader).
When it comes to this story, the enjoyment I got was quite literally split down the middle. The first half of the film unfortunately seemed to drag on quite a bit. There were some neat visuals and a nice introduction to our cast, but not a lot seemed to be going on. This all changed dramatically at some indiscernible point in the flick, because quickly everything got much more entertaining, and funny. The film started going in directions that I would’ve never guessed in a million years, which is a quality I always admire. This included a major plot point where Sophie and the BFG actually go to the Queen of the United Kingdom for help! And, as you may assume, this was a very comedic part of the film.
In hindsight, Steven Spielberg was the best possible choice in director for this kind of film. Spielberg really knows how to direct a whimsical family adventure, and The BFG is of no exception. The mood is touching when it needs to be, but also knows how (and at what times) to get serious, adventurous, and absurd.
When I first saw the design for the Big Friendly Giant, I thought that he looked a little strange. It felt as if he fell face first off the uncanny valley. I don’t know exactly what it was, but something about his facial structure, compounded with the CGI made me feel uneasy. Yet, as the movie progressed, his appearance slowly grew on me. I started to admire the design that was chosen, as the BFG was clearly intended to look like the character from the book. Yes, at times he looked uncanny, even downright scary. But I think the kind and caring way the character is portrayed really helped to make him charming.
The BFG was nonsensical, clever, and oftentimes kept me guessing what would happen next. Despite the occasional lull in the story and some creepy CGI effects, I still think this is a really good movie for families. I had a lot of fun watching Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant interact with the weird world around them. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, but I can still tell that a lot of work was put into the film to make it look similar. If you’re a fan of Roald Dahl books or Spielberg-esque, family-friendly adventures, than I’d highly recommend you give The BFG a watch.
The Verdict: B+