There are some things that are certain in life. The sun rises in the east, sets in the west. The Moon orbits the Earth, the Earth orbits the Sun. Steven Spielberg makes all time classic great films. It’s the last one that I’d like to talk about and I’ll lay my cards on the table right now. Sir Stevie Spielberg is my favourite filmmaker of all time. His track record is almost without a blemish (ok, ok 1941, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the glass headed aliens and War of the Worlds aside) and he makes me fall in love with all of his movies, often times reducing me to a blubbering teary eyed mess (see Empire of the Sun, Schindler’s List and E.T.).
So, after heading to my local World of Cine (I have the black card!) to sample the latest offering of my favourite ever director, his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved novel The BFG, I was left asking myself one question. Why didn’t I love this film? Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. But I didn’t love it.
It starts strongly enough, taking us into an orphanage in London where we meet Sophie (played by the excellent Ruby Barnhill), an insomniac 9 year old with a fear of the witching hour of…..3am? I always thought it was Midnight? Anyway, she believes this is when people start to disappear, taken by the boogie man. When she hears a noise from the street outside, she breaks her own rules and goes to the window to investigate. There she catches a glimpse of the titular BFG, or the Big Friendly Giant for….long. Having seen him, he can’t leave her as he’s afraid she’ll tell everyone and ruin his nightly work of catching dreams. Sophie is whisked off to the land of the giants and we are whisked off into the film on a wave of optimism and adventure. So far, so good.
Then, strangely, everything kind of grinds to a halt. The BFG’s house in the land of the giants is a nice place to spend some time, I’d quite like to go there on holiday. The BFG himself (played by the magnificent Mark Rylance with so much humility and warmth you just want to hug him!) is great to spend time with and his relationship with Sophie has a real tender, caring quality too it. Apart from a few confrontations with the villains of the piece, the bigger, human eating giants however, it becomes a bit plodding and repetetive.
The film really needs a shot in the arm in the third act and thankfully, it gets one in the form of Sophie and The BFG’s master plan to rope in the Queen and her army to rid the land of giants of those pesky man eating giants. The scene where they meet the Queen, then have breakfast in Buckingham Palace is a real treat and one of the funniest scenes of the year. It then picks up pace towards a climax you’ll be used to if you’ve read the book.
Overall, I’d recommend The BFG. Sure, it has its flaws but it is a good kids movie that has a charm and sense of humour, even though it can drag at times. As I said, I didn’t love it and I think that could be because I didn’t love the source material. Normally I’m captivated by the stories he tells and the characters he creates but this just lacked the Spielberg magic touch.
Verdict: Liked it, didn’t love it but still worth seeing. 3 Popcorns!