The BFG (2016)

The BFG poster.jpg
Dahl turned Dull

Director: Steven Spielberg
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jermaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader

Ten year old Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) lives a dissatisfying life at the orphanage, reading at nights due to her insomnia. At 3:00am one night, she catches a glimpse of an elderly giant, who snatches her from her bed and takes her to giant country. Introducing himself as the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance), the figure turns out to be a kindly soul, as well as an outcast to other giants, due to his refusal to eat children.

It's hard to believe this picture was directed by a veteran director, especially when that person is Steven Spielberg. It'd be understandable to expect a less experienced director to have handled these proceedings, as opposed to the veteran behind the much adored E.T: The Extraterrestrial. The intent on delivering heartfelt moments comes off as forced attempts at sentimentality, coming off as mawkish and banal. At least wonderful visuals are managed, with a scene spent capturing dreams serving as a visually stunning example.

As the titular giant that's both big and friendly, Mark Rylance delivers a fantastic turn, working especially well alongside the great effects. Newcomer Ruby Barnhill does a rather good job, portraying Sophie with a likeability which overcomes how plain and generic her character is written. We're typically told how she dislikes the orphanage she lives at, but one never gets to view her personal dissatisfaction. In a cast of great performers, these two are the standouts.

What's abundantly clear is where more work was needed. Melissa Mathison's script is in need of a tune up, while the film would've benefited from Michael Kahn being more brutal with the editing. A good example for both is a breakfast sequence set with The Queen of England, which feels largely pointless, merely existing for an extended fart gag.

Rarely feeling genuine in its attempts at emotion, The BFG feels like Spielberg on autopilot. Additional work to the script and the editing would have been rather beneficial, here.