Adaptation Adventure

'The BFG' Film Review: Big adventure with a big heart

July 1, 2016Ben Mk



   
From Michael Crichton to Philip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg knows a thing or two about breathing cinematic life into stories that have left their mark on the printed page. Now, with the arrival of Spielberg's big screen adaptation of "The BFG," it's author Roald Dahl's turn.

A tale of the unlikely friendship between a young orphan girl named Sophie (newcomer Ruby Barnhill) and a Big Friendly Giant (Bridge of Spies' Mark Rylance), The BFG doesn't stray far from the source material, beginning with Sophie's kidnapping at the oversized hands of the 24-foot-tall being, who's forced to snatch her to protect the secret of his own existence. Brought back to the BFG's home in Giant Country, Sophie fears that she's about to become her captor's next meal. However, she's pleasantly surprised to learn that the BFG prefers vegetables over meat.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the nine other giants that roam the land, fearsomely named Fleshlumpeater, Manhugger, Meatdripper, Childchewer, Butcher Boy, Bloodbottler, Maidmasher, Bonecruncher and Gizzardgulper. As a result, Sophie finds herself sticking close to the BFG for her own protection, and as she does so, she develops a bond with the lovable oaf. Eventually, the pair end up collaborating on a plan to stop the people-eating behemoths from terrifying London, even enlisting help from the Queen of England herself.

Written by the late Melissa Mathison, who previously teamed with Spielberg for 1982's E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, The BFG is a warmhearted, family-friendly adventure that should please audiences both young and old alike. Steering clear of some of the more ghastly (read: cannibalistic) elements of Dahl's original 1982 story, the film upholds its Reagan-era backdrop and British setting, and focuses on the relationship between Sophie and the BFG, delivering plenty of awe, genuine emotion and wild-eyed wonderment along the way.

Otherwise, the most notable thing about The BFG is just how believable it is, which is a testament to the film's cutting-edge visual effects, and to the actors as well. Not only does Rylance lend the utmost credence to his CG character, thanks to the nuances in both his vocal work and in his motion-captured performance, but Barnhill, who's acting opposite a blue screen for the most part, manages to hold her own throughout, providing the movie with that critical audience surrogate that allows viewers to buy in to the story wholeheartedly.

It all adds up to one of the best Roald Dahl adaptations to grace the big screen, and it's a movie that ought to resonate with audiences on an emotional level. The BFG may not possess the oddball charm of Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, nor the cool factor of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, but its earnest sincerity is what sets it apart, making it a new family classic that will be treasured for years to come.


The BFG releases July 1st, 2016 from Walt Disney Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 57 Mins.








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