Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Melissa Mathison
Based on: Roald Dahl’s novel
Cast: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader
Seen on: 26.7.2016
Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) lives in an orphanage that isn’t exactly the best place. One night Sophie watches as a huge person in a cloak runs through the city of London. And then that person sees her watching and simply grabs her. Soon, Sophie finds herself in the country of giants, the mysterious cloakwearer turning out to be a giant himself. Fortunately for Sophie, he’s the smallest and only friendly giant which is why she calls him the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance). But when Sophie hears what the other giants are up to every night, she knows that she has to do something.
The BFG is in many things a very nice adaptation of the book, although it does lack a bit of the novel’s magic. Nevertheless I enjoyed it a lot.
Since what I loved most about the book was its language and the movie couldn’t possibly capture all of the wonderful inventiveness of it all (though they did include a bit at least), it is clear that this is simply something where the movie will fall behind the book. They also made a few other changes to the story, not all of which I appreciated that much (for example, they came up with a boy who lived with the BFG before Sophie, a plot point I didn’t particularly care for. And they were rather inconsistent with the BFG’s superior hearing).
But some things work just beautifully and maybe even better than in the book. The BFG’s cave is a thing of beauty, and I really liked how the dreams looked. Penelope Wilton makes for a wonderful Queen and Rafe Spall for an excellent butler. Together with them, the breakfast at Buckingham Palace really comes to live and doesn’t feel half as silly as it is.
Both Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill are decent in their roles, though I thought that Rylance’ performance sometimes suffered under the CGI and Barnhill is trying a little too hard at times. But this is very much nitpicking at something that works nicely indeed.
The entire film works very nicely, although it probably won’t be remembered as one of Spielberg’s strongest films. It’s a film for kids that doesn’t belittle them, following children’s logic in many places and having fun with it – which can and will appeal to adults, too.