Steven Spielberg misses with special effects heavy ‘BFG’
Steven Spielberg’s resume of heartfelt and touching films great with The BFG, a big budget adaptation of Roald Dahl’s work packed full of amazing effects. Sadly, audiences were given a movie which can’t live up to expectations and seems split into two different tones.
Dahl’s beloved 1982 novel about a little girl who gets kidnapped by a BFG (big friendly giant) and taken to a land of unfriendly cannibal giants, isn’t much like the original content. Mark Rylance stars as the titular giant, who takes 10-year-old Sophie (newcomer Ruby Barnhill) on the journey of a lifetime and imagination. The early London sequence shows how the giant manages to cloak his humongous size by blending in with the scenery.
This is truly masterful and a highlight of the entire picture.
BFG is a runt among the gigantic creatures, bullied by beasts named Bloodbottler (voiced by Bill Hader), eager to chow down on little Sophie, as well as Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement), who is the expert at sniffing out “human beans.” The adventure is dark, edgy, much like Spielberg’s Hook before changing entirely as the film shifts to Buckingham Palace.
Sophie convinces the Queen (Penelope Wilton) that these Giants are real, a threat to the nation but with the help of BFG, the threat can be avoided. The scene turns strange as she (and those in the scene) partake of BFG’s favorite drink, a “frobscottle,” which sets off an explosion of “whizzpoppers” — massive, explosive farts which would be make Mel Brooks proud.
Dahl was frustrated and unhappy with Willy Wonka, which is an amazing film, so Spielberg’s adaptation is making the writer turn over in his grave. It is sweet and magical at times, but nearly every character is underdeveloped and the film just drones on in places.
The big star of BFG is not Rylance, who deservedly won the Oscar for Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, never shines as the special effects are the true star of BFG. Weta Digital and its four-time Oscar-winning senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri truly delivered with breathtaking humanized giants and believable emotions.
Overall The BFG receives 2 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets are far superior family experiences with little ones and the appeal of The BFG will come over the years. Spielberg proved to be more apt at comedy than he’s given credit for, but like Hook, A.I. and Always, the famous director doesn’t always stay focused and the final products don’t live up to fan expectations.