THE BFG – A Review by John Strange

By: John ‘Doc’ Strange
Roald Dahl has written many stories for children and adults.  In fact, he has sold over 200 million copies.  Dahl’s first children’s novel was The Gremlins, published in 1943.  It was about the wild creatures that plagued flight crews of the RAF.  According to Wikipedia, Dahl sent a copy of the book to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to read to her grandchildren.  The book was later commissioned by Walt Disney but the film was never made.
Some of his most famous children’s books were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, The Twits and George's Marvellous Medicine.  Of these, all but The Twits and George's Marvellous Medicine have been made into films.
The BFG was written in 1982, the Reagan-era in America.  The story is set in England.  The story revolves around a young orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill).  She wasn’t like the other kids.  She stayed up late at night and read in her bed.  She feared the witching hour.  But she felt that everyone had it wrong.  The witching hour was 3 AM not midnight!
One night she steps out onto the balcony at the orphanage.  She sees a strange shadow, like a huge hand; setting a trash can upright at the street corner below.  She runs back to her bed and hides under the quilt.  The hand reaches in and takes her from the bed, book, quilt and all.
Thus begins an amazing epic journey that includes chasing dreams, child-eating giants, and a luncheon with a Queen of England amongst its colorful adventures!  Sophia and BFG (who turns out to be a gentle soul) become fast friends.  They find themselves with a quest to make life better for everyone.
BFG (Mark Rylance) is a runt compared to his fellow giants.  He is also a vegan while they like… meat, especially children.  He harvests dreams which he then gives people as they sleep unaware of his presence.
The look of this film is a combination of real and CGI.  Only Steven Spielberg could pull off this with this level of panache.  When I heard this was a Roald Dahl story I was excited to see how it would be done.  James and the Giant Peach used live action and stop-motion, Fantastic Mr Fox was stop motion animation.  The BFG is live action but with just the right amount of CGI to give the story it a storybook feel.
The look is reminiscent of the visual look of Mr. Dahl’s books.  The scenes where the BFG runs along the coast are excellent but the scenes with the dream captures are amazing.  The story is wonderful but it is almost overshadowed by the visual experience.  In fact, those visuals are perhaps the best reason for watching this film.  Boys and girls, men and women, all ages will find something to love about this film!  I loved it all!
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader
MPAA Rating: PG (for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor)
Selig Rating: Full Price
Runtime: 115 Min.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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