The BFG is not an origin tale of the best weapon in John Romero’s classic 1993 videogame Doom, but instead, it’s Roald Dahl‘s classic tale about a big, friendly giant, living in Giant Country, yet getting hassled by a number of bad giants.
The book originally came out in 1982, and I haven’t read it, but then anyone who’s read my reviews of films based on novels knows that I don’t read them and haven’t read one since I was at school. Okay, so The BFG came out while I was still at school, but I only read when I was forced to do so, and this one hadn’t come onto the school curriculum at the time. I then missed the 1989 animated version with David Jason in the lead role as it wasn’t really my bag by then, so this Steven Spielberg movie was my first experience of the story, and it’d led brilliantly by Mark Rylance as the giant – who continues to prove himself as one of Britain’s best actors as he turns his hand, and facial expressions, to the character, plus a great performance from up-and-coming Ruby Barnhill as Sophie, effectively kidnapped from her orphanage, after which at first she wants to return back there, but then she hated it anyway.
That said, living with a potential Nurse Ratched has to be preferable to getting chomped on by man-eating giants, which dwarf Rylance’s character.
The BFG mostly talks gibberish, so would do quite well as a politician, although he refers to how he converses “a little bit squiggly”, examples being human beans and jiggyraffes (instead of human beings and giraffes). He has jars full of dreams stored in his house, one of which is about dreaming you’re on the phone to the President of the United States. Since Donald Trump is currently President Elect, that is going to make for a very amusing dream, and as adults watch this over the next four years, they’re going to be chuckling at that scene, for sure!
It’s CGI’d to within an inch of its life, but Spielberg doesn’t spare any expense on his vision and makes great use of the $14m budget. Young children will love it, while adults will certainly be impressed by the visuals, even if the story is rather thin for them. However, for both of them, two hours is rather too long for this. It could easily have lost about 20 minutes.
The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition. The visuals are pin-sharp and quite often I even stood very close to my 50″ plasma TV so it filled my field of vision, with all of the giants looking quite a treat up close.
The 3D can be a bit hit and miss at times, such as when something gets too close to the screen and it distorts slightly, but when it’s on point, which is most of the time, it’s superb. This is one of many films which wasn’t shot in 3D, but which was all done in post-production. Surely the cost of those 3D cameras has come down by now? Why are so many 3D films still converted after filming? Life Of Pi was shot in 3D, and that had no ‘close to the camera’ issues, such as when Pi points the stick at the camera, and it comes right out of the screen.
For the sound, it’s superb once the giants start kicking off, with all the speakers being used well, while the rest of the time, subtle ambience comes across nicely amongst the dialogue.
There aren’t a huge amount of extras, but they are as follows:
- Bringing The BFG to life (27:08): Ruby Barnhill takes us through her video diaries while making the movie. With 11 chapters over 27 minutes, this is better chaptered than the movie!
- The Big Friendly Giant and Me (1:55): Brief, but with the accompanying animation, it’s worth it.
- Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of The BFG (3:16): Another brief piece, but with some animation to make it fun.
- Giants 101 (4:57): An introduction to all nine giants in the movie, which also shows how the motion-capture works.
- Melissa Mathison: A Tribute (5:53): A tribute to Melissa who wrote the script for both this and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, plus many more, and who sadly passed away in November last year aged just 65.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
There are 20 chapters to the disc, so a good figure from Entertainment One, while most studios short-change the audience on 12. Either way, for a two-hour film, a few more wouldn’t go amiss, as my preferred average is one every five minutes. Subtitles are in English only, and the menu features some subtle animation with the BFG and the tree of dreams.
Running time: 117 minutes
Studio: Entertainment One
Released: November 21st 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: English Dolby Atmos
Subtitles: English for the hearing impaired
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producers: Frank Marshall, Sam Mercer and Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Melissa Mathison
Music: John Williams
The BFG: Mark Rylance
Sophie: Ruby Barnhill
The Queen: Penelope Wilton
Fleshlumpeater: Jemaine Clement
Mary: Rebecca Hall
Mr. Tibbs: Rafe Spall
Bloodbottler: Bill Hader
Maidmasher / Cook: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
Manhugger / Lout #1: Adam Godley
Butcher Boy / Danish Driver: Michael Adamthwaite
Bonecruncher / Lout #2: Daniel Bacon
Childchewer / Pub Landlord: Jonathan Holmes
Gizzardgulper / Late Night Walker: Chris Gibbs
Meatdripper / Lout #3: Paul Moniz de Sa
Matron: Marilyn Norry
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.