Sunday, 31 July 2016

Film Review No. 10 The BFG (PG)

Strong Points:
Amazing motion capture
Superb CGI and scaling
Nicely translates Roald Dahl's novel
Great acting
Given the film is mostly a duologue, the speed is kept up nicely
Good sound and music
Great family film

Weak Points:
Pacing can be sometimes off
Some parts of the film are brushed away/never explained

Some slight spoilers ahead:
In-depth Review:
I has been trying to squibble a whoopsey-splunkers review for a little bit now but all my words are going frontback. Ah, what rotsome luck, it's a cataster, an absotuetly gruncious cataster!

Roald Dahl always had a way with words, an uncanny ability to translate children's dreams and wishes into fantastical but relatable stories. Transferring this magic born from imagination onto the big screen where only the imagination of the team is conveyed is difficult and Spielberg has done a great if uneven job in presenting Roald Dahl's story with help from some strong performances and impressive effects.

The setting and landscapes were all gorgeous, from the subdued colours of midnight in London to the dancing lights of Dream Country. These greenscreens and effects are getting better as well, I couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't which is always a great feeling when watching a fantasy film. Something that helped was the camera work, which masterfully created the illusion of scale which, combined with the special effects, allowed us to really see the film from Sophie's perspective and just generally how big everything is to a child's eyes.

Mark Rylance's BFG was the star of the show and he did an excellent job in portraying the lumbering grace and clumsiness of a giant which is still the runt of the litter. His eyes and expressions really gave a sense of friendliness and wisdom, even for someone who hasn't quite got the grasp of the English language. A highlight was when Sophie praised him for his English and his entire face lit up with pleasure and relief that someone actually appreciates him, it was really nice to see. As a side note, you've got to hand it to the kids who star in these films - with this and the Jungle Book, they are mostly working with characters and set pieces which only really appear in post-production.

Duologue mostly - kept pace (mostly) This film was mostly a duologue between The BFG and Sophie and in an age where film casts are getting bigger and bigger, it was surprising that they were able to keep the pace going as well as they did with. I mean, yes, the pacing did slow at some points too much and went too quickly at others making you miss references to the book or general plot points but the chemistry between the two characters was enough to make me look past that (even if the entire plot can boil down to Stockholm Syndrome).

Words and humour are two central parts to a Dahl tale and Spielberg and Rylance did a great job at converting the words to the big screen with weird and wonderful phrases flowing freely. Humour was also there, although not in abundance and concentrated into certain scenes more than others, I still found myself laughing along with the film. Knowing when to stop laughing is also a skill and Spielberg did that well, allowing us to appreciate the dreams and all they hold as well as empathise with just how lonely the duo was.

I can't not talk about The Queen scene which was basically an extended joke at British stereotypes and the BFG's size and as a fellow Brit, I couldn't not laugh. From The Queen ringing up Boris to explain where the missing children were to The BFG holding up a pinky when drinking his coffee (coffee, really?) and bagpipes being brought into be played during breakfast, it's always great to see a light jab at the stereotypes that surround as all. The extended farting scene which followed was... interesting, to say the least, and the entire theatre lost it after the corgi's had a sip of the drink where the 'bubbles go the wrong way'.

Of course, we had to have some sort of climax and what better way than to get rid of the giants than to bring in the army? While this scene could've had more time to really have an effect - the section between them having a nightmare and getting carried away happened rather quickly, it was still a fun scene that ended the film nicely.

Conclusion: overall, The BFG was a big and friendly family film and while some critics may see it was a bit light compared to the source material, it allowed the theatre goer to go into a place of dreams and magic which has rarely been reached outside of traditional animation.

Rating: 80%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.


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