Road Dahl’s iconic story about a giant befriending a little girl is given the Spielberg touch in a charming adventure that, whilst its first half is full of wonder and magic, feels like it wears thin in the second act. Despite a pretty good story and some amazing CGI effects, the second half of the film is what lets it down initially. The visuals are enough to sustain wonder and awe throughout, even if it does wear thin late on, and its good to see Road Dahl’s trademark humour put to good use here.
The story, as seen through the eyes of little girl Sophie, starts with her being kidnapped by the BFG himself and taken to Giant Country. After trying to initially escape, she learns of his purpose and together, they work to driving away the other giants in a magical adventure. Its a nice tale and its told with enthusiasm and respect for the source material but at times it feels like it outstays its welcome as the initial wonder and awe starts to wear off. The second half in particular does feel it drags compared to the first and its interesting to note this occurs around the same time that we grow familiar with the setting and characters after being caught in a wave of awestruck wonder.
Its not a deal breaker though and you really can’t help but feel swept up in the journey. The BFG is at its best when it draws from the book and spins it with a trademark Spielberg feel. It has a real child-like wonder that mirrors that of Sophie throughout and its shot really well. There’s a particular scene here, a dream catching sequence, that’s visually stunning and has such a great use of colour throughout. Its definitely the stand out moment for me and is truly a beautiful bit of film work.
The characters of Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and the BFG himself (Mark Rylance) have a great chemistry together and the latter puts in a great performance as the dim but lovable giant. Snozzberries and whizzpopping galore, the Giant is brought to life with such enthusiasm and alongside Ruby Barnhill who does a very convincing job of an awestruck girl swept along on this reluctant adventure.
Overall, The BFG is a faithful recreation of the magical adventure of the Giant and the little girl Sophie that just lacks a bit of spark in the second half. The first half, however, zips along at a decent pace juxtaposed by the mammoth steps of the giant as the magical retelling of Road Dahl’s big friendly giant is truly whoopsy whiffling (great). The acting is good too and some solid performances all round do the film justice but as the wonder wears thin, so too does the film’s pacing that just about makes it over the finish line in this story about a little girl and her giant friend.