Take one of the greatest children’s authors in history, add in arguably the greatest director of all time, throw in 140 million dollars and Oscar winner Mark Rylance, then stew for 25 years in development hell and you wind up with The BFG.
As for the end result?
It’s not half bad.
It’s not perfect. Not by a long shot. The story (written in 1982) really hasn’t aged well and it can’t seem to decide whether to set itself in (what I assume to be) the 1960’s or the modern day. And yet again, we find ourselves in a film which, much like The Jungle Book features an untrained, inexperienced child actor ( Ruby Barnhill- the is literally her first anything) wondering around green screen sets looking vaguely confused and generally being completely abysmal as child actors in her situation are wont to do.
However, I don’t want to give the impression that this film is poor because there’s a lot here that works- I laughed at quite a few scenes, Mark Rylance is superb as the BFG and it does feature some really impressive looking moments. But the pacing is incredibly slow in the first half and it seems quite rushed in the second. And that’s not including the fact that it feels horrifically padded- a bloated pulsating mass of a 2 hour film instead of a lean whippet of a 90-100 minute experience.
This is definitely a film which would have benefited no end form being either full CGI or animated… with say Del Boy as the BFG and being released in 1989 with a 2 minute 44 second song dedicated to.. erm.. ‘Whizzpopping’ Or am I getting off topic again?
Back to the 2016 version. And it’s got a major issue with it’s tone- it’s no secret the Dahls books are horrifically dark, (it wouldn’t take much to turn one into a straight 18 horror film in my opinion) but Spielberg seems to have drawn the stories teeth. I mean a film with 8 cannibal giants in should feel slightly dark or is that just me?
The film does have moments where it works, but the pacing is weird, its half an hour too long with easily 40 minutes worth of padding, the child actor alternates between tolerable and insufferable and the plot has been mercilessly stretched. But Rylance is amazing in the title role, with a lot of the effects working and quite a few laughs coming out of it. But it’s a missed opportunity at best.
My score- If Nothing Else