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You would think that Steven Spielberg would have directed a film for Walt Disney Pictures already, but it wasn’t until last year when that actually happened! The BFG is based on a Roald Dahl novel of the same name (which previously had an animated television film adaptation). So you’d assume that when you put Steven Spielberg and Roald Dahl together, you’d get a pretty good movie, right? Well, let’s find out!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The movie begins at an orphanage in London where a young girl, Sophie, played by Ruby Barnhill, is awake at 3 AM. You see, she thinks this is the “witching hour”, a time where she expects to see magical stuff happening while everyone else is asleep. She sits up in her bed looking out onto the street hoping to catch a glimpse of something magical.
Sophie is in luck as she does happen to see something.
The “something” turns out to be an enormous giant! And the giant notices Sophie too! Sophie tries to hide, but the giant reaches in the orphanage, grabs her, and puts her in his bag. He then takes her back to his place without anyone seeing. You may be wondering how could such a giant being NOT be seen or noticed by anyone? Granted, it’s 3 AM and most people are asleep, but still! Well, he happens to be a master of blending in with his surroundings!
The giant lives very far away in Giant Country, which seems to be as far away from civilization as one can possibly get. When they reach the giant’s lair/workshop, Sophie tries to run away, but she can’t as the giant has her captive. He tells her that he took her because she saw him and he couldn’t trust her not to tell anyone about him.
As they talk more and more, Sophie realizes that the giant is not going to eat her and that he’s actually quite friendly and kind, at least compared to his older, nastier giant brothers.
Sophie realizes that since the giant is friendly as well as being the smallest of his brothers, they bully him often and push him around. She soon becomes friendly with the giant and interested in what he does all day. You see, he’s in charge of collecting dreams and giving dreams to sleeping people. There are ethereal floating things that exist near Giant Country that he collects and puts into jars which he uses to make “dream gases” with.
Sophie begs the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) to take her along with him to see how he goes about catching these dreams. He refuses, but after some persistence from Sophie, he gives in and allows her to tag along. These dreams actually seem to live in another realm: the realm of reflections. The BFG has to jump into a nearby lake to enter that realm.
After he captures the dreams and makes the gases, he takes Sophie with him back to the city to show her how he blows the “dream gas” into the sleeping children and give them dreams.
But, it’s not all fun and games as the BFG’s brothers soon discover that he’s hiding a “human bean” from them. The BFG realizes that Sophie’s life is in danger should the brothers find her as they would devour her on sight! How does the BFG know this? Well, it seems that many years ago, the BFG had kidnapped another child and befriended him. But, the brothers found that child and ate him. Not wanting Sophie to have a similar fate, the BFG takes her back to the orphanage and leaves her there.
Sophie won’t accept this though, so she decides to try something. She jumps from the second story of the orphanage to the ground below as the BFG is supposed to have incredible hearing and is sure to hear her and come in time to save her from splatting to the floor, right? Well, she tries it anyway and jumps.
Alright, that doesn’t happen. As you can expect, the BFG does hear her in time, comes, and catches her in time before she hits the ground. This seems to have solved the predicament earlier about protecting her from his brothers as they now realize they’re good friends and don’t want to be split apart. So what do they do now? Well, Sophie has a plan as to how to deal with the bad giant brothers: get Her Majesty involved!
Yep, Sophie decides to go see the Queen herself, played by Penelope Wilton. Now of course, she can’t just go and tell the Queen that there are some giants that they need to take care of as she, of course, wouldn’t believe her. So she gets the BFG to create a dream for the Queen that shows the bad giants and how they would kidnap and eat British children should they be allowed to roam freely. Then, they sneak into Buckingham Palace somehow, blow the dream into the Queen, and then both speak with the Queen in person. This is quite a long scene, but in the end, it ends with the Queen, her maid and butler (played by Rebecca Hall and Rafe Spall, respectively), and all the other guards/soldiers there believing Sophie’s story.
The Queen invites them in to have breakfast with her and the BFG even brings a drink from Giant Country for all of them to try, a quite gaseous drink if you catch my drift.
Anyway, after breakfast is over, they devise a plan that I find somewhat confusing, but it works. The BFG and Sophie head back to Giant Country and infuse the bad giant brothers with some pretty bad nightmares. Then, Her Majesty sends in helicopters that capture the giants and dump them on an island in the middle of the ocean somewhere. The giants hate water so there’s no chance of them swimming off the island!
In the end, Sophie gets adopted by the Queen’s maid and as a result, lives in the Queen’s palace while the BFG goes back to Giant Country continuing to give dreams to children. Sophie points out that whenever she feels lonely, she talks to the BFG, and the BFG, although miles away, is still able to hear her due to his incredible hearing.
And that was The BFG and honestly, this was a wonderful family film! Steven Spielberg and Roald Dahl make a wonderful marriage in filmmaking! And to top it all off, it’s Disney as well! It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a recent live-action movie that’s such a joy for the entire family to watch! Maybe some older children may get a bit “bored” by the simplicity of the story, but I feel the characters, visuals, and overall charm of the movie are enough to keep one interested.
Mark Rylance was a nigh perfect choice for the BFG and all the actors were pretty good. Ruby Barnhill was a bit laughable at times, but this was her first movie, and she’s only a kid, but she does try hard. I’ll give her an A for effort. The cinematography and visuals are gorgeous and had this film done better at the box office, they would have been praised much more! The only complaint I can really make about this movie is that it’s probably a bit too long as there are scenes involving the giant brothers and the Buckingham Palace that could really have been shortened a bit. Other than that, I haven’t watched a movie this good for this blog in a long time and you should definitely go check it out if you haven’t already seen it!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score for this film is 32/35 = 91.43% (A-) !
The next review will be posted on April 10, 2017.
12 thoughts on “The BFG (2016)”
This is one I didn’t get around to seeing. Sounds like it was pretty good though!
Yeah, I really recommend checking it out especially for a family movie night.
This was certainly a pleasant surprise! I also bought the Austrialian blu-ray, so I can say that I own a Disney movie directed by Spielberg!
A lot of people were either disappointed or downright negative about this film. It’s a shame it flopped in the USA, because in the UK the families I saw it with were really enjoying it, mainly because people Roald Dahl is more well known in the UK. I hope The BFG is given another, more considerate look in the future, like Hook was.
I figured you’d like this review 😉 !
In the US, I don’t think it was so much that people were disappointed with the film, but more so that very few people actually went to see it. Everyone I’ve talked with who saw it liked it, but that’s a very small amount of people.
I wonder, if it had been released nearer the Christmas holidays, where these sorts of family fantasy films can find an audience (like Narnia) it would have had better luck, instead of dropped in the middle of an overcroweded summer.
I also wrote my own review for The BFG on Letterboxd, feel free to check it out if you like!
I think it also wasn’t promoted much, at least in the US.
Great review! And like I said, this is the only movie that has a fart joke that I think is actually funny, laugh-out-loud funny, to be precise!
I also enjoyed Rylance’s West Country accent; I wonder what a Cockney giant would have sounded like. He wouldn’t have needed any malapropisms as the Cockney rhyming slang would have been confusing enough for most people anyway, lol!
I remember the book so very well, and I absolutely LOVED the title character, for his amiable nature and hilarious malapropisms. (My mom once read it aloud to me and my brother, and the goofy voice she used for the BFG still makes me grin to this day.)
I only hope that, when I finally watch it, the film will be just as good….
I haven’t read the book yet, so I can’t say whether the film was loyal to the book or not, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the film.
I watched this with my grandparents in Wisconsin, so we were among the few in the USA who did see it. I remember my grandma (who is a fan of children’s fiction and Roald Dahl) saying, “This movie had better be good” and my grandpa said he had already made up his mind to like it, whether it was good or not.
And in the end, we all did like it. It’s true that the story can be sluggish and BFG’s voice can be very grating, but this is mostly true to the original book if you read it. It does have a lot of the magic and charm of the book (which I read at about age 9, being a big Roald Dahl fan) though it softens the darker elements. One thing I discussed with my grandmother is that it did at least refrain from hiding that children were being eaten by the giants though it was never shown.
I think the BFG was picked on mostly for the fact he refused to eat human beings, like the rest of the giants, however, moreso than just his being the nicest. The insistence the movie has that the BFG needs to stand up to them (and how he eventually does), however, is strange since realistically he couldn’t, even through the methods they show.
What surprised me is how faithful it is to the novel. Even if The BFG wasn’t one of Dahl’s best works, it was one of his most creative, in terms of meshing darkness and magic (the BFG is a big friendly giant, but he’s the only one who is), and this is a serviceable adaptation, so I’m glad that you agreed with me.
Glad to know you saw this and we agree on the film! I gotta read the original novel one day.
I’m glad your grandparents enjoyed it too.
I’m one of those people who thought The BFG was too simplistic to enjoy. A shame because I love Roald Dahl. I was never bored watching it though. For me it was ☆☆1/2 (5/10).
To each their own. I was surprisingly charmed by this one.