The BFG (2016)

Anyone my age and older will say that Roald Dahl’s stories inspired us and maybe even helped shape our lives today. Each story is timeless and perhaps the most moving yet most frightening of them is The BFG or The Big Friendly Giant. Excitement overcame me when I saw the posters and trailer for this movie, as it did my friend whose idea it was to watch it yesterday.

One night Sophie, an orphaned girl in London, spots a giant from her window. Fearing she would tell the adult world, he takes her away with him back to Giant Country and his little house underground. At first, she’s afraid she’ll be eaten, but realises he’s actually a very friendly giant, who doesn’t eat children, but the nine other giants in the country do. They form a close friendship, and she calls him BFG (Big Friendly Giant). BFG is bossed around and bullied by the other horrible giants, who also steal children from their beds and eat them, Sophie and her Giant both hatch a plan to stop them, which enlists a certain monarch’s help.

Directed by Steven Spielberg I knew the story would be in safe hands and he created some magical moments, particularly the dream catching sequence. Dotted around London are Sophie’s Dream Jars also, so it seemed like the story was taken seriously before the film even premiered.

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Admittedly, the opening is a little slow starting and some points in the middle drag despite the quality cast and visuals. I also felt there were certain moments that were a little randomly placed and didn’t fit in with the aesthetic of the rest of the movie. As sweet and light as the musical score was by John Williams it isn’t as iconic or memorable as his previous work such as E.T., Jurassic Park etc.

But these flaws will be soon forgotten as you get swept into the world of the Giants. Even though tailored towards children, who laughed and engaged in it from what I witnessed in the cinema, it is humorous enough that even the parents were laughing out loud. The giant sequences are playful; the two lead evil giants Fleshlumpeater and Bloodbottler played by Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Bill Hader (Inside Out, Saturday Night Live) are unrecognisable and wonderfully evil. Scriptwriter Melissa Mathison did an excellent job by retaining the unique speech of the Giants, originally crafted by Roald Dahl himself.

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Ruby Barnhill makes a spirited Sophie, and kudos for such a young girl to practically act alone against CGI Giants. And the surprise appearances of Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall and Rafe Spall are welcome as they bring another smile to your face. But it’s really Mark Rylance who, once again, steals the show for me. The beauty of his acting is that he doesn’t just talk the talk or walk the walk, he also conveys so much emotion and tells a thousand stories through his expressive eyes. When he is on screen, it is never a dull moment, whether it be funny or sad, and he is the perfect BFG.

Overall, The BFG is a lovely film that had me smiling throughout and was a truly charming watch.

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