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Movie Review: The BFG

Updated on July 10, 2016

One night, a young girl named Sophie is taken away by a giant in her sleep. Although the girl is startled at first, she grows a bond with the giant after discovering he is kindly and friendly. However, not all is well in the world of giants. The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is ostensibly the runt of his litter, often being picked on by larger and meaner giants. Even though he is the victim of their bullying, The BFG can outsmart them, but he has to protect Sophie as the other giants eat humans. The BFG has a unique ability to collect dreams which BFG and Sophie decide to use in a unique way of revenge against the mean giants.

The first thing viewers might notice is that The BFG - as a film - looks gorgeous. This is another one of those films viewers will want to re-visit just to look at. It's not just the world of the giants - those are magnificent with their vivid colors. However, even the scenes that take place in real world London look beautiful. The special effects are good, but mixed. On face value, they look amazing, but I was not able to 100% buy the BFG being part of the same world as the human characters. However, in a way this does work, as it demonstrates the difference between this magical character and "the real world" (the real world by the film's standards).

The eponymous BFG is a lovable character. In addition to his gentleness, he has a bizarre vocabulary that clearly makes sense to him but baffles Sophie. Sophie, as a character is kinda generic. If asked her personality, I might be a tad stumped. However, the actress who plays the role is so likable that she overcomes her character's less-than-defined personality. The two have great chemistry with plenty of warmth.

Viewers may be expecting a certain level of magic from a Spielberg-Disney collaboration (based on a book by Roald Dhal - with a screenplay by the screewriter of ET), and this film delivers. Scenes of Sophie and BFG collecting dreams are absolutely wonderful, especially a sweet moment where BFG finds a dream that reminds him of Sophie. The way BFG collects them is imaginative - plus we see some creativity as BFG is able to craft dreams other dreams.

Even the scenes of other giants being cruel to BFG are fun in how imaginative they are - such the giants using cars as skates. The BFG is one of the family films that actually earns its PG rating with a few bawdy jokes. Normally, rude jokes about breaking wind would seam like a cheap laugh in these movies, but in this film they are done with such exuberance and creativity, they do in fact fit. The BFG has only a few out-loud funny moments, but a ton of moments that elicit smiles.

The BFG is superb, but not perfect. If I had not already known, I would have likely surmised this film was based on a book. The narrative flow does feel chapter-driven. Having not read the book, it's hard to tell if this is an issue in the book or something lost in translation, but the film seems to hop from one scenario to another. There are certain story transitions that feel missing. Also, while the climax is amazing - too good to give away what happens, it feels a little rushed. Then again, despite being nearly two hours, this film feels briskly paced.

The BFG comes highly recommended. The film is creative and fun for younger audiences in a way that will invigorate their imaginations. Adults can enjoy the film too. This was the first film in a while with a tone, sweetness and lack of pandering that reminded of fantasy films from the 80's and 90's. I can easily see this hanging with Labyrinth, Return to Oz or Spielberg's family friendly films from that era.


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