The BFG

Film, Fantasy
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(17user reviews)
The BFG

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Steven Spielberg teams up again with Mark Rylance for a magical adaptation of Roald Dahl's adored children's tale

A little orphan girl is snatched from her bed late at night by a big-hearted vegetarian giant and whisked off to an unwelcoming land of over-sized cannibals in Roald Dahl's much-cherished 1982 book 'The BFG'. For this movie version, aimed squarely at small kids who love the book, Steven Spielberg, working with the late 'ET' writer Melissa Mathison, runs with the lean meat of Dahl's tale. 

Mark Rylance is the benevolent giant who pours dreams and nightmares into the ears of sleeping humans and who joins forces with the Queen (Penelope Wilton) to put a stop to the threat of flesh-eating giants. Spielberg makes surprisingly few embellishments to Dahl's story, yet he tones down some of the more vicious bone-crunching and is more interested in the wonder of dreams than the terror of nightmares.

This is a faithful, charming (if a tiny bit sluggish) version that mixes live action with the same motion-capture technique that Spielberg used for 'The Adventures of Tintin' in 2011. There are a handful of heart-stopping moments, not least when Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is snatched from her bed by those enormous fingers coming through the window. But there are points, too, when you can see the technology working, which might leave you wondering if digital invention can ever really match the imaginative leaps inspired by the printed word.

Still, the giant that Spielberg has created with actor Mark Rylance is testament to how fast this technology is moving: he's a fleshy marvel, full of personality, flaws and life. And yes, he does indeed look very, very friendly. You also fully believe the BFG’s friendship with the little girl, Sophie, played by Ruby Barnhill, who early in the film threatens to be annoyingly bossy and stampy, but whose performance gives way to something more sweet and vulnerable – steering well clear of cute.

Spielberg more or less keeps the 1980s setting (Reagan is President, although, worryingly, a mysterious politician called 'Boris' is on the other end of the phone to the Queen). The story plays like a reverse of 'ET' (here it's the little girl who must return home, fleeing a hostile land). And Spielberg nods to his earlier movie with a striking moment when the BFG is silhouetted against a blazing sun. For all the film's strengths, it's hard to shake the niggling feeling that something is missing. Certainly this slightly mournful 'The BFG' could use more humour (it’s no 'Paddington'), and perhaps also a more personal spin on Dahl's story would have been welcome (it's no 'Fantastic Mr Fox' either). But flaws aside, this is a superior, inventive kids' film, and one that's bound to make Rylance's giant a favourite with younger audiences.

Details

Release details

Rated:
PG
Release date:
Friday July 22 2016
Duration:
115 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter:
Melissa Mathison
Cast:
Rebecca Hall
Jemaine Clement
Mark Rylance
Penelope Wilton

Users say (17)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:6
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|17
1 person listening
Tastemaker

This is a favourite Roald Dahl book of mine and so was sceptical of how this could be translated for the big screen. Spielberg has done an incredible job of this with the actors perfectly cast and VFX effects really do this film true justice. The dream jars are magical the BFG’s abode and Giant World just as described in the book. However perhaps it’s just me being old fashioned but I am still very fond of the original animation film and although the effects are super impressive I would choose the simple effects anytime, but this is very well done.

tastemaker

We've probably all read the BFG story many many times as kids and I must say this is a great cinema adaptation. The atmosphere is light and magical (as well as very british!). The little girl perfectly match the book character with a kind strong personality and BFG is the giant we all want to meet!
I've enjoy this movie and I would definitely recommend to both adults and little ones.

Tastemaker

I was really looking forward to this film as I was a fan of Roald Dahl when I was young.  It was a good combination of CGI and real life with an unusual story as you would expect with Roald Dahl.  I enjoyed it, but I felt it was more suitable to a Christmas Day treat than a film at the cinema.

Tastemaker

As a huge fan of Mark Rylance, and also a decent fan of Roald Dahl, I knew I had to watch this film. I was definitely glad I did. This family-friendly film turns dreams into reality, and had me scratching my head as to how they filmed so many of the breath-taking shots. The most marvellous details and facial expressions that Mark Rylance managed to convey were so accurately portrayed onto the BFG that at times I was wondering if that was really Mark's face. I still can't figure out how they did it! Besides the special effects, the chemistry between BFG and Sophie is incredible. I highly recommend this film for all ages, even if the ending doesn't make sense (well you must have read the book anyway and known the ending...) Let your imagination run wild during this special effects masterclass and you will definitely enjoy it so much more.

tastemaker

I absolutely enjoyed experiencing The BFG, it's such a delightful, humorous and a fascinating film. I didn't expect it to be as brilliant as I imagined it.

I've watched it about 2 times in different occasions and they equally were fantastic. Many people I know expected more of the film, but I think it was just perfect.

The characterisation of Roald Dahl's The BFG is such a beauty to watch, all of the most tiniest details are just impeccably created.

It's set in the old streets of London and that's where you see everything begin from this story. It's a story that all children will absolutely adore. They will laugh their heads off.

I promise they will go completely bonkers with numerous scenes of The BFG. All of the family will be quite surprised to see such a classic children's book come to life in this way. I remember growing up when I was in school and reading all of Roald Dahl's books, I enjoyed devouring his books.

The companionship between 'Mark Rylance' who plays the Big Friendly Giant and 'Ruby Barnhill' who plays Sophie, the little girl who lived in the orphanage is an example for many people out there. No matter who you are or what you look like, you have the strength to conquer the world because believing is achieving. That is how I see it and what I felt at the time of watching this film.

All of the most peculiar details that I'll probably notice that others possibly won't even pay attention to is outstanding.

I'm such a lunatic when it comes to catching everything in my mind and every moment. The facial expressions, the movements of the face and the body of the giants, even the furniture, and let's not forget the tiny food that you get to see in one of the scenes.

It just looks realistically breathtaking and I get so surprised by how great it all comes together. His manner of speaking is incredibly discombobulated.

One of my favourite parts in The BFG is the scene when Sophie and BFG meet the Queen of Great Britain. This by far the most hilarious event I have ever experienced. You have to see it for yourself, it's unmissable. I love the bottled dreams, these coloured dreamy creatures that the BFG can hear are a treat.

The ending for me did it, it was quite emotional. The communication and love will never be lost between the two and that transmits beautifully to the audience.

Enjoy everyone!

#TOTastemaker

Love MD.

Tastemaker

An absolute charmer, this film was enchanting and magical and really spoke to my inner child. Brought to the forefront what a genius Roald Dahl is, with the animation and angles in this film making it a pure delight to watch. I loved every second of this film and I think in one viewing I know it has become a firm favourite for me for life. I recommend this for people of all ages, especially those once familiar with the book :) 

Tastemaker

Magical film but mainly for children.

It was beautiful written, visually impressive and funny when it has to be.

Go and see it and allow your inner child to come out.

Tastemaker

Beautiful animation and incredible scenes, but the plot seemed to be dragged out and a touch boring. Some cute scenes here and there, but it's definitely worth keeping the imagination of Roald Dahl's book within your own creative mind. 

Tastemaker

This was sweet but not amazing. I really enjoyed the start, but I don't think it was as magical as it could've been! I loved the scene with the queen. 

Tastemaker

A group of 5 of us went - aged 54 to 9. Some of the group new the book well and others were less familiar. I wanted and expected to love the movie. But frankly it left me non plussed - a little bored and emotionally detached. I can't put my finger on it as the animation was great and I usually love Roald Dahl. Our group had mixed feelings - oldest and youngest loved it and the middle 3 were like me  - it was ok but not great.


I'm glad I saw it but I can't see that I would ever bother to watch it again.


tastemaker

I was incredibly excited to see the BFG! It was one of my favourite childhood books and the screen adaptation staring David Jason was also a firm favourite. The BFG does not disappoint. It is just as whimsical as you would hope and the casting of Mark Rylance was excellent, he brought such warmth and humour to the role. The visuals are breath taking, it really does make for magical viewing. However, as a 2 hour feature length film, it did feel lacking in parts. Some scenes seemed unnecessarily long, there was a lack of pace, and while the brilliant effects and acting made up for this, it did seem as though there was not enough content to fill a 2 hour long film. Overall though this is something to be experienced in the cinema. Worth a watch!

Tastemaker

‘The BFG’ was one of my favourite childhood books; witty and imaginative, it was read and re-read until the pages were soft & worn.


The 1989 animated film was one of my favourite childhood films; in equal parts deliciously, genuinely terrifyingly and heart-tuggingly moving, it was loyal to the source material and more than a little bit magical.


Steven Spielberg is a god to me and always has been so I’ve been looking forward to this big screen adaptation since the first trailer emerged blinking sleepily into the limelight some months ago. Spinner of dreams and a weaver of magic, the director is a genius when it comes to telling a story that hooks you in and refuses to let go and he’s renowned for drawing out beautiful performances from his actors, especially those of the child kind…


…however the most wonderful performance here comes not from 12 year old Ruby Barnhill as Sophie but Mark Rylance as the titular Big Friendly Giant. Honestly, the man has the most expressive face I have ever seen and it doesn’t matter if he’s on screen in human form or as a gorgeously stop-motion-animated-and-captured giant, he’s outstanding and entirely worth going to see the film for. I absolutely loved the way he was brought to life; from his wafting cape to his wiggly ears and his jumbled up language, he was exactly as the book and my imagination and Dahl meant him to be and I couldn't watch him without being swept up in a wave of emotion.


I’ve no wish to speak ill of child actors but for me, Barnhill was woefully miscast. Animated redheaded Sophie from 1989 was plucky & spirited & empathetic; real life Ruby was the epitome of stage school acting – wooden and un-natural, overly dramatic and un-relatable, I found it hard to engage with her patronising, schoolmarm persona and I did wonder with genuine curiosity what it was that Spielberg, the man who found and worked with Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas & Christian Bale in their childhoods,had seen in her.


Lovely support comes from Penelope Wilton as a determined monarch, Rafe Spall as a mild-mannered footman and the utterly brilliant Jermaine Clement as Fleshlumpeater, the biggest and roughest of the child-stealing, child-eating giants but special mention must go to the corgis who had me absolutely crying with laughter as they raised their little faces with alarm after drinking frobscottle for the first time…if you emerge from the palace scenes without tears running down your face, you’re a stronger person than I am! 


The latter half of the film was better for me than the first which was beautiful to look at (especially London at night which seemed to skip between decades but was instantly recognisable thanks to the Mini Cooper which tootled through the cobbled streets!) but a tad slow at times; it was all very charming but it could have done with picking up the pace especially during the dream sequence. 


Everything was beautifully scored with magic skipping through every silvery note as only John Williams can do but I have to say I was left scratching my head as to why additions were made to the story – they did nothing to enhance it but rather, they made me feel as though my emotion were being deliberately manipulated which I’m not a fan of. Melissa Mathison was an exceptional talent when it came to bringing stories to life on the big screen so I can’t imagine why she felt the story wasn’t sufficient as it was in Dahl’s original book.


Overall, this is not a bad film – the film belongs to Rylance for sure and I was glad I saw it but it probably won’t stay with me in the way the other version did. A little bit of tightening up and a cheekier, more natural Sophie would have worked wonders for me but it’s a perfectly nice way to pass a couple of hours and in a world of computer games and sequels and superhero franchises aimed at children, I’m always going to welcome a film based on original, creative & dreamy source material whether it’s for a real child or the child within.

Tastemaker

Who hasn't read the BFG as a child? Roal Dahl's novel still has a special spot in my heart. 


I could not miss the animation inspired by it and as usual I went to the cinema a bit skeptic about the result, my expectations were not too high but hey, this movie is truly beautiful. My nephew had never heard of this story and we had to buy the book right after the cinema as he really wanted to read it! 


As you can imagine, it's good both for kids and grown ups; it does make you think and I loved talking about it all with my nephew afterwards. 

Tastemaker

As a child I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl and the BFG book. I wasn't sure how it would be portrayed on the big screen, but I have to say it really did it justice and stayed true to the original heartwarming tale.


The movie is full of hidden meaning and life lessons, as well as some funny moments and a handful of scary scenes. The characterization is fantastic, the Big Friendly Giant himself is wonderful and truly seems like a gentle giant. Probably one for older children (and adults reminiscing over their youth!) although our 2 year old also loved it! Really hope this sets off a series of adaptions from Roald Dahl books into feature films!


I read the book when I was a child and seeing the movie years later is been amazing. 

It's funny, sometimes scary and most of all, is full of meanings! It can teach a lot also to adults, I recommend it for everyone. Enjoy!

Tastemaker

I can not fault this film except that I felt it was slow. Great for family and kids of all ages. The film is just an amazing use of CGI. How wonderful to see one of my daughters favourite bedtime stories brought to life! It was impossible not to join in as the young children in the theatre began to realise what drinking the Giants fizzy drink meant! Adorable! Relax and enjoy.

Tastemaker

Amazing - what can I say! I am a massive fan of the books since being a child and I wasn't quite sure how this would translate to film but I was so impressed. I imagine children will so drawn into the imagery - as I was! I can't wait to see it again!