Adaptation Adventure

'The BFG' Blu-ray Review: This adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic is big, fun and great

November 29, 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 cottage 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 snozzcumbers over meat.

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.

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.

From the eye-popping fidelity of the image to its rich and deep hues, The BFG's 1080p transfer is outstanding in many regards, wowing viewers with the level of onscreen detail to be found in both the real-life actors, their clothing and their environments, and the fully CG giants and their rustic and rural-looking surroundings, as well as with the vibrancy of the film's color palette, which comes to life in the lush green grass of Giant Country and the multicolored spheres of dancing light that zig and zag against the backdrop of a night sky. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix that accompanies the feature is striking as well, channeling dialogue and music with crystal-clarity, and filling the air with the sounds of giant waterfalls and military helicopters, not to mention the unconventional noises made by whizzpoppers, ringbellers, phizwizzards and trogglehumpers.

Disney's two-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Bringing The BFG To Life (27:09) - A making-of documentary that touches on the life of Roald Dahl, Melissa Mathison's script, the casting of Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill, the sets, props and costumes, and the motion capture technology used to bring the BFG and his world to life.
  • The Big Friendly Giant And Me (1:55) - An animated short, as told from the point-of-view of a little boy befriended by the BFG.
  • Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words Of The BFG (3:16) - A piece about Gobblefunk, otherwise known as the official language of the BFG.
  • Giants 101 (4:57) - A look at the film's nine other giants, the actors who play them, and the work of movement coach Terry Notary.
  • Melissa Mathison: A Tribute (5:54) - The filmmakers fondly remember screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who passed away shortly after the film's production.

The BFG is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of November 29th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 57 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on July 1st, 2016.

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