This review was not written by me, it was written by my friend Yaseen Fawzi and I thought I would share what he wrote by posting his review of Steven Spielberg’s film version of The BFG here on my site. I know it came out back in July, but he has written some reviews of films that he has seen and I thought I would post them on here 🙂
July 7, 2016
Steven Spielberg’s newest, highly-anticipated film. The BFG is based on the classic children’s story of the same name by Roald Dahl. When the young orphan Sophie is whisked away by a mysterious being, she ends up meeting that being known as the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). However, beneath the BFG’s intimidating presence is a kind and gentle figure who is an outcast, because he does not want to eat children. Unfortunately, this grabs the attention of the more fearsome flesh-eating giants, including Fleshlumpeater and Bloodbottler. Sophie and the BFG soon enlist the help of the Queen to vanquish the flesh-eating giants once and for all.
The film starts recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance in the title role and newcomer Ruby Barnhill in her film debut as Sophie. In the roles of Fleshlumpeater and Bloodbottler are popular New Zealand musician Jemaine Clement and comedian Bill Hader. Supporting roles include Penelope Wilton as the Queen, along with Rebecca Hall and Rafe Spall. Out of all the actors in this small cast, the stand-out performance belongs to Rylance, who goes beyond limits in his mo-cap performance as the BFG to give the character a tender soul filled with childlike innocence. For her first major role, Barnhill delivers a stunningly spot-on performance as Sophie. Clement and the other flesh-giant cast members, also acting in motion capture, play their roles like those of large bullies, taunting and humiliating the BFG.
The script, as written by the late Melissa Mathison (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), to whom the film is dedicated, captures the innocence and sense of wonder prominent in many of Spielberg’s films while also retaining Dahl’s quirky charm and wordplay. This includes such fictional terms as snozzcumber, fizzwiggler, and frobscottle, the last of which refers to a special kind of drink in which its air bubbles go down rather than up and give off a special kind of fart. At the heart of the film is the budding friendship between the BFG and Sophie, which gives the film an element of minimalism, since they are the primary characters throughout a majority of its length. Spielberg is one the few directors who still knows how to balance special effects with effective storytelling. Another commendable trait that is ever so rare nowadays is how the film, particularly during the beginning, jumps straight into its plot points without the need for expository dialogue or endless padding. The flesh-eating giants are especially fearsome in their stature, towering over even the BFG, which further exemplifies how much of a loner he really is. Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg’s fantastical production design is most evident in such locations as Dream Country (which is akin to Aurora Borealis located near a tree and magical pond), the nightly ghost-town streets of London, and the BFG’s home, with an interior and objects extremely large from a human’s perspective, but small enough for him. The cinematography by Janusz Kaminski has that fine, delicate balance between shadow and light, and adds a greater depth of field that is the BFG’s huge environment. John Williams’ musical score is just as whimsical and orchestrally endearing as that of E.T.
The BFG is quite a quirky candidate in Spielberg’s line-up, but he ultimately respects Dahl’s classic story while also adding a great deal of cinematic flair to it.
* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *) “Ya-stars”