RELEASED 2016 RUNTIME 117 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION STEVEN SPIELBERG SCREENPLAY MELISSA MATHISON STARRING MARK RYLANCE, RUBY BARNHILL, PENELOPE WILTON, JEMAINE CLEMENT, REBECCA HALL, RAFE SPALL, BILL HADER MUSIC JOHN WILLIAMS
Steven Speilberg’s new movie is an adaption of the English children’s book “The Big Friendly Giant” and stars Ruby Barnhill as a young girl who lives in a children’s home an one day gets taken by a big giant to giant’s land onto a big adventure of oversized proportions.
I have never heard of the Big Friendly Giant before and therefore had no idea what to expect from the story. The only thing I knew from the trailers was that it looks like a family film with a giant and the great Steven Spielberg is making it. I trust in anything Spielberg touches cause let’s be honest, this guy can do anything in any genre in any format. He will always get my benefit of the doubt.
That being said, the movie hasn’t wowed me. In fact, I was a little bit bored. I don’t know, if it’s the plot or the visuals. Probably both.
First, the story is VERY much geared towards children, more than I expected. It’s very fantastical and has some random elements to it, which don’t get explained. But that’s something I have noticed in a lot of children’s tales. I don’t like when a world gets established, just to break its own rules later. For example, there is more than one giant in this story. Actually, there is an entire island of giants. The odd thing is that all the other giants are bigger than the big friendly giant. They also look bulkier and different in general. Why is that so? I don’t know. But I want to know because it’s important for the relationship the giants have with the BFG.
STORY (NO SPOILERS)
When it comes to the story, it’s alright. It’s very fantastical and basically a fairytale. That’s fine. It’s a children’s book after all. There is enough there to have fun with and excite. Plus, the thing about myself is, I don’t need an elaborate plot when you give me great visuals and interesting characters to root for. I’m a visual person and I like to have beautifully executed things to look at (s. Mad Max series). That leads me to my next point.
How are the visuals? They are imaginative and colorful. That’s good. But they are also extremely CG. Almost nothing about this movie looks real. The only real thing is the setting in London, which, however, we don’t spend the most time at. Besides that and some of the props that were build for our main actress to interact with there is nothing real about the film. It’s all animated and very much looks like it. I don’t know, if it was a stylistic choice, but the entire giant’s world looks pretty fake. Maybe it’s just me, but I was taken out by the visuals for most of the movie’s running time and couldn’t get invested in it. Which is unfortunate because Mark Rylance’s mo-cap work is fantastic. But his character just doesn’t look convincing to me.
Let’s talk about the performances. As I just said, Mark Rylance is great and his performance capture is really neat, especially his facial expressions. But I have a major problem. I don’t understand a single word he says! The main reason why I was bored with the film is the language. Yes, Mark Rylance loves to mumble, but the language he speaks is some kind of odd giants slang. I can’t think of any children being able to follow the dialogue.
However, the higlight is Ruby Barnhill who despite her young age does a really good job, especially when considering she is acting against in a green screen environment for 80% of the film. She has a bright future ahead, if she keeps at it.
That’s it. I’m not very impressed by the BFG. That’s not to say that the movie may not be for you. If you love the story, you will probably find a lot of enjoyment out of it. It’s the kind of movie that I think will find its core group of fans, but just wasn’t for me.
The visuals are too fantastical and don’t look very convincing to me. The actors are good, but I had major issues with the language and therefore wasn’t able to invest myself enough into the plot.
It doesn’t happen often that I give a Spielberg movie a below average score, but I guess it’s one of these days. However, I am always looking to the next Spielberg project and m pretty sure he will deliver a hit rather sooner than later.