The BFG (2016)

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Released:  Friday, July 1, 2016  
Length:  117 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Family
Rating: The BFG is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaSome material may not be suitable for children.


The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans, while the BFG prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams.

Having both been on their own in the world up until now, their affection for one another quickly grows. But Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, who have become increasingly more bothersome. Says Spielberg, “It’s a story about friendship, it’s a story about loyalty and protecting your friends and it’s a story that shows that even a little girl can help a big giant solve his biggest problems.” Sophie and the BFG soon depart for London to see Queen Victoria (Penelope Wilton) and warn her of the precarious giant situation, but they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall), that giants do indeed exist. Together, they come up with a plan to get rid of the giants once and for all.

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The BFG images are © Walt Disney Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

The BFG Theatrical Review

Some would argue that author Roald Dahl was a deeply disturbed individual.  Others would argue he was a brilliant writer.  Some would say he was both.  As the author of many children's and adult books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, he cemented a place in literary history.

His stories often had an undertone of mystical and/or magical happenings surrounded by darker themes and ideas and usually involved orphaned or poor children.  The BFG is one of those stories and now Disney has decided to make it into a feature length film.

Sophie (Rubie Barnhill; 4 O'Clock Club) is an insomniac orphan who haunts the halls of the orphanage late at night.  She loves reading and lies in bed all night devouring a good book.  Though she has been warned to stay away from the window and balcony, she just can help but peek one night and sees something she can't quite believe.

The BFG (Mark Rylance; Bridge of Spies) roams the streets of London late at night planting the dreams he has caught into peoples' heads.  Unfortunately, once Sophie sees him he can't let her tell anyone and snatches her away to Giant Country so she can't tell on him.  Ironically, he is the "runt" of his group who doesn't eat people and is often picked on by the other giants.  In his quest to keep Sophie safe, he hides her away so the other giants can't find her.  Unfortunately, when his plan backfires, he and Sophie must find away to enlist help so the other giants don't hurt her.

Director Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List) uses sweeping visuals and first person camera angles to give us sense of the enormity of the world of these giants.  The film has his signature stamp all over it and fans of Spielberg will enjoy his film style immensely.

Rylance does a great job as The BFG and proves yet again why is he is an Academy award winner.  Barnhill is young and has little experience, and I found her performance to be alternately good and lacking depending on the scene.  I also found her voice to be a little bit annoying.  It will be interesting to see how she grows and what type of actor she will possibly become.

The visual effects are lackluster, to say the least, and the story is uninspiring.  There are numerous holes in the plot such as Sophie and The BFG ever being able to get remotely near the queen of England and, as with all Dahl plots, one must suspend belief to enjoy the story.

Unfortunately, the screenplay by Melissa Mathison (E.T.:The Extra Terestrial) is slow and monotonous.  The story drags and fails to builds must momentum, even during the climatic battle scene between the giants and the British Army.

Conversely, the fantasy world of the "dream tree" is magical though, and gives the movie a sense of whimsy and playfulness it desperately needs.  Unfortunately, those moments are too few to make a significant difference to the overall story.

For many adults the film will seem long and somewhat unnecessary.  However, to children between the ages of around 5 to 10, the world of The BFG will be all the things I mentioned earlier – whimsical, fanciful, and magical with a dark undertone that is a signature of Roald Dahl's writing.

Grade: C


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  • 12/9/2015 1:33 PM EST


    The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other in...
  • 4/5/2016 11:55 AM EST


    The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other in...

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