Friday, July 1, 2016

The BFG Review

The BFG. Big friendly giant. Big freaking giant? Big fumbling goofball? Oh man, this is a scrumdiddlyumptious conversation! What can you come up with that fits the acronym BFG? Think about that as you read this review and let me know your best one! Anyways, moving on. We are now in the middle of the summer and Steven Spielberg and company have found themselves in quite the sticky position. Here they are having made a fun, family adventure and they were confident enough to give it a mid-summer release date. Their $140 million budget for the movie means they were expecting big things out of this. But as it turns out, they have found themselves sandwiched between two powerhouse family adventures with Pixar's Finding Dory and Illumination's The Secret Life of Pets. Three family adventures in this short of time span usually means that at least one of them gets left in the dust. Right now it's looking like The BFG is the odd one out as the excitement and awareness levels don't seem that high. Some are projecting this to open below $20 million for the holiday weekend, which is a horrible start for a $140 million movie. This is unfortunate in my opinion because Spielberg has conjured up yet another fun family adventure that is worth your time!

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I will be reviewing the movie The BFG and not the book The BFG. Zero comparisons will be made between the two in this review simply because I have zero knowledge of the book. I do know Roald Dahl and some of his other works, but for some reason I went through life not even knowing that The BFG novel existed until the first teaser for this came out and everyone started freaking out. And no, I didn't bother reading it or even researching the plot before seeing the movie, so I went in completely blind and thus I will be talking solely about my movie going experience with this story. If you want a book/movie comparison, feel free to find another friend who could help you out there and let me know what you come up with. However, even though I had no knowledge of The BFG, I was still excited for this movie. I mean, this is Steven freaking Spielberg we're talking about. I, like everyone else on this planet, love Spielberg's movies. One of the many great things about him is that he has something for everyone. Movies like Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and Schindler's List are some of my favorite movies, all for different reasons. And a John Williams score to go along with it? I'm so down!

That said, no director is perfect. Not even the great Steven Spielberg. Even though he has made a lot of personal favorites of mine, including but not limited to the movies I mentioned, he's also made other movies like A.I. Artificial Intelligence or War Horse that I wasn't a fan of. Not every Spielberg movie is a masterpiece and not every Spielberg movie needs to be. The BFG is no masterpiece. It certainly wouldn't make a Spielberg top 10 and it might even struggle to make a Spielberg top 20. But one of the many things I love about Spielberg is how versatile of a director he is. He can make a hard-R masterpiece like Schindler's List and he can also tone it down and make a delightfully fun family film like The BFG. That's what this movie is. It's a cute, charming, delightful movie that I think the whole family can enjoy, especially the little kids. If you are a parent with kids between ages 5 and 10, I'd almost be willing to call this a must-see at some point because this has the potential to be a childhood favorite of theirs much like a movie such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was a childhood favorite of many who grew up in the 80's. I realize you might not have the means to see this, Finding Dory, and The Secret Life of Pets all in theaters. But check this out at some point. You'll be glad you did.

As far as the plot goes, this movie is about a young girl becoming friends with a giant. She's an orphan and she really doesn't like it too well at the orphanage. One night she hears something and wanders over to the window to see what it was and she sees the giant. Because she saw him, he feels the need to kidnap her because he's afraid she'll tell everyone about him. She thinks he's going to eat her for dinner, but she quickly learns that he is in fact a big friendly giant, so she calls him BFG. The two become friends rather quickly and are quite the charming pair. We also learn quickly that BFG isn't the only giant out there. The others aren't quite as friendly. They're more like BFI's, big freaking idiots. They're the ones that actually are the mean, child-eating monsters and children all over London have been going missing because they get kidnapped and eaten by these other giants, which is kinda disturbing when you stop and think about it. Good thing we aren't shown any of that. But that does lead to our conflict in the movie. It's BFG vs. the other giants and BFG and the girl have to figure out what to do. As I said, they make quite the team. It's a lot of fun to watch them interact and talk with each other. They go on several fun adventures and the compliment each other quite well.

I will admit that I am still kind of mad that Mark Rylance won the best supporting actor Oscar earlier this year over Sylvester Stallone. I mean Mark Rylance did a good job in Bridge of Spies. But Sylvester Stallone in Creed was incredible and there will never be another chance to reward Stallone for his great performance as Rocky Balboa. Sorry for bringing that up, but that's what I think about now when I see Mark Rylance and I had to get that out of my system. But now the other thing I will think about when I see Mark Rylance is his incredible performance as BFG. Not only was the motion capture element of this great, but so was his overall performance. BFG is not very good at English and because of that he is always stumbling over his words or making words up as he goes. The little girl spends a lot of time correcting him on his English and helping him to become better. It was rather charming to watch and Mark Rylance just rocked this character. He was so good. As so was our little girl for that matter. Her character's name is Sophie and the young actress is a girl by the name of Ruby Barnhill. It's rare to find a great child actress and we've found another one here. She is such an adorable little girl and does such a great job.

In terms of complaints about the movie, I will admit that this took a while to get started. There were a lot of moments in the first half of the movie where I found myself a little bored and was sadly drifting in and out of consciousness. I don't think this was intended on being a big, scary, thrill ride with giants, but I would've appreciated it if the movie would've picked up the pace a little sooner than it did. I did enjoy the second half of the movie quite a bit more than the first half. The scene where they visit the Queen of England was especially fantastic. As I think about it, though, nothing about this movie was particularly amazing. Even when it picked up in the second half, I was never really blown away. I was charmed. It was an adorable movie. But I wasn't super impressed. It's not a movie that I'm going to run around trying to advocate everyone rush to the theaters to see. We do have great characters, but I don't think there's a ton of depth to the story itself. It's just a simple, fun, family film. I don't know if this is a problem with the source material or not. Like I said, I know nothing about the novel. I'm just judging what I saw on screen and it was nothing fantastic. I may have even had a bit more fun with Jack the Giant Slayer a few years back. But I still think this is worth seeing.

No, this movie won't be remembered as one of Spielberg's masterpieces. But I appreciate the fact that he can still feel comfortable with toning things down and making a solid movie that the kids will enjoy. That's what this is. Regardless of overall quality, another thing I love about Spielberg is that he always makes well-crafted films. Spielberg has the art of filmmaking down to a science and it's been this way for many years, which is why it's always great to watch a Spielberg movie. And a John Williams score is something that I always love. The man is 84 years old, so I don't know how many more films he has in him. But I hope it's still a lot. His scores have been some of my all time favorites and I look forward to many more. So yes, there's a lot to love in this movie. It's a well-crafted movie with a beautiful score. Mark Rylance is amazing as the BFG and Ruby Barnhill is equally as great as Sophie. The two of them are just charming to watch. The movie overall is nothing special and I was bored a lot more than I should've been in the first half. But I still think this is a good family film worth seeing. Even if you don't have the means to see it in theaters, I'd recommend you renting it at some point. My grade for The BFG is a 7/10.

2 comments:

  1. Definitely not one of Spielberg's masterpieces, but it's still likable enough.

    Nice review.

    - Zach (fadetozach.blogspot.com)

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