Film Review: The BFG
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Steven Spielberg was taking on a huge responsibility when he decided to lead the way in turning Roald Dahl's classic The BFG into a motion picture film. The beloved children's book has been read by generations of children, and Spielberg certainly had a difficult job in preserving and respecting the timelessness of the story.
It's a shame, then, that the film doesn't quite capture the magic.
The narrative follows Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), a young girl who lives in an orphanage in London. One night when she is unable to sleep she looks out of the orphanage's bedroom balcony to see what appears to be a giant. In a fright she runs back to bed but is snatched in the night and taken to a far off place; she discovers that this is the land of the giants
Almost immediately the special friendship between Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) becomes evident, and the film has a lot of potential to become something truly special and heartwarming.
Visually, the film is spectacular. The attention to detail is incredible and really makes the film a technical success - even things as simple as the giant's finger nails, the crevices in his skin and the fabric of his clothes; they are designed and shot so carefully that this fictional character created by special effects feels so real. The use of colour in the various settings is wonderful, especially in the BFG's 'dream jars' where he captures different coloured and shaped dreams to give to children as they sleep.
As well as this, sound is used incredibly effectively, a technical aspect which was particularly important in emphasising the size of the giant. The pounding on his feet and the booming of his actions was a great success in creating the illusion.
The film's biggest success, however, is Mark Rylance's performance as The BFG. After seeing this near perfect performance in the role, it is difficult to imagine anyone else who could bring so much to the character. Rylance's charming and rather adorable portrayal of the friendly giant was fantastic and did justice to the character Roald Dahl created.
Nevertheless, The BFG is certainly not one of Spielberg's bests and it is definitely not without fault. Although his direction for the most part is a success, it loses its way. It is not the role of the director to decide the narrative of a film which is based on a book, however the execution of certain scenes was at fault. Some moments in the film are incredibly dull and far more drawn-out than necessary. The novelty of the giant's clumsiness soon wears off, yet too great a portion of the film is dedicated to trying to add more to a character thatis already fully developed.
Moreover, Ruby Barnhill, although appearing perfectly suited to the role to begin with, is inconsistent in her acting ability. Sometimes she is well capable as Sophie, and other times she tries too hard to act. At no point was her relationship with The BFG truly touching; it was difficult to feel emotional because of the unconvincing friendship.
The biggest question in regards to the BFG though is who is it aimed at? It is difficult to tell if this would appeal to a child, yet that is not to say that an adult cannot enjoy a children's story. Nevertheless it is difficult to know who the target audience actually is.
The BFG was full of potential and excellent in some aspects. It looked and sounded great, and was also lucky enough to have a talented Oscar winner in one of the leading roles. Nevertheless the inconsistency in the film and the unnecessary aspects made it ultimately rather unenjoyable.
The BFG is released in UK cinemas on 22nd July 2016.
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