One of Roald Dahl's few unadapted works has finally become a feature film by Steven Spielberg. The BFG joins the ranks of Dahl's other classic childrens books that became movies including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Matilda. And for Spielberg, The BFG feels akin to the amazing films he's directed and produced for families including E.T., Hook, Back to the Future and The Adventures of Tin-Tin.
Sophie is a young lonely orphan who loves to read late at night when everyone is sleeping. When she spots a giant in the streets of London, she gets taken to giant country where she learns that all giants love to eat children, except for her Big Friendly Giant (BFG). The BFG spends his time collecting dreams and mixes them together when he visits the human world. But when Sophie sees an opportunity to rid the world of the unfriendly giants, she and the BFG will have to work together to put an end to their child munching ways.
The BFG is one of Roald Dahl's best books and the second of his to be adapted by Disney. It contains many of Dahl's recurring themes, including an unhappy child as the protagonist and a single friendly adult in a world of terrible ones. It also features the whimsy and magic of his other stories, which makes it feel very at home under the Disney label.
With a cast of largely unrecognizable faces, the biggest names provide the performances behind the motion capture giants. Academy Award winner Mark Rylance, who won an Oscar for his last Spielberg film Bridge of Spies, plays the BFG with a winning motion capture performance. He's sympathetic and lovable, with the film's success resting almost entirely on his shoulders. The only actor more important than him is the one who literally sits on his shoulders, Ruby Barnhill who is delightful as Sophie.
Spielberg adds some of his special touches to The BFG, which remains very faithful to the book. He brings his favorite composer along with him for the project, the infamous John Williams who has written a beautiful score. The Amblin logo with E.T. and Elliott appears after the castle and I noticed a few hidden nods to other Spielberg films, Jurassic Park and Hook, scattered elsewhere. While Spielberg and Disney have partnered before in the past (Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Dreamworks distribution deal), this is Spielberg's first film to feature a Disney castle intro.
In an era where most of Disney's live action films are part of a franchise or a remake of a classic animated film, The BFG feels refreshing, original and classic all at the same time. It uses state-of-the-art technology to bring this impossible tale to life in an effective and seamless manner. And it takes a beloved childrens classic that has touched millions and introduces it to a new generation.
I give The BFG 5 out of 5 Whizpoppers.