Review: The BFG (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 15 August 2016

Review: The BFG (2016)

Review: The BFG (2016)

Based on Roald Dahl's 1982 children's book of the same name, THE BFG tells a story about a 10-year-old orphaned girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who spots a giant man (voiced by Mark Rylance) lurking around the neighbourhood. When the giant man noticed her presence, he grabs her and carries her to his home in a faraway realm known as the Giant Country. At the beginning, Sophie feels intimidated by his gigantic appearance. Fortunately, she discovers the giant man -- in which she subsequently named him as BFG a.k.a. "Big Friendly Giant" -- turns out to be a gentle being after all.

REVIEW: After spending the last few years exploring historical-based dramas including LINCOLN (2012) and BRIDGE OF SPIES (2015), it's a refreshing change of pace to see Steven Spielberg returns to his familiar family-friendly territory for the first time since 2011's THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN. The result is THE BFG, a long-gestating project which also reunites Spielberg and the late screenwriter Melissa Mathison since their last successful collaboration in 1982's E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL.

But those who are expecting an E.T.-like endearing quality might find Spielberg's similarly-themed approach (an unlikely friendship between a human child and a fantastical being) in THE BFG a little too restrained. Not to mention at nearly two hours long, the pace is sluggish and even lack the wow factor used to be found in Spielberg's brand of family-friendly entertainment.

Still, THE BFG is far from a cinematic failure. Visually speaking, Spielberg successfully created a fantastical yet dreamy world of Giant Country while the CG creation of the giants -- particularly Mark Rylance as the titular character himself -- is extraordinarily lifelike. Rylance, who reunites with Spielberg following his Oscar-winning turn in last year's BRIDGE OF SPIES, exudes genuine warmth and sadness to his sympathetic motion-capture performance. He pairs well with the British newcomer Ruby Barnhill, who is perfectly cast as the plucky Sophie.

While Rylance and Barnhill are mostly the heart and soul of the picture, Penelope Wilton almost single-handedly steals the show during the movie's elaborate centrepiece with her cheeky performance as the Queen of England. Speaking of the centrepiece, it's nice to see Spielberg let loose once in a while staging an extended Rube Goldberg-like comedy scene involving the BFG facing the Queen in the Buckingham Palace for a lavish meal. This particular scene also gives the otherwise plodding movie a much-needed jolt.

Steven Spielberg's long-awaited comeback to his familiar family-friendly territory in THE BFG is plodding and lacks dramatic urgency but still benefits from some of his signature movie magic.

* This review is written courtesy from Walt Disney Malaysia 3D press screening *

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