by Michael B. Hock
I like Roald Dahl. There aren’t many children’s writers who are willing to delve into the darker world around them. His books are usually written from a child’s point of view, and children do view the world as terrible from time to time. It’s a big scary world, and Dahl got that. But his books also taught us to embrace that darkness, and it could be overcome, usually through cunning, or just doing what is right.
Maybe some more of his works should be required reading for some of our politicians. (That’s has heavy as the political satire gets on here folks. That is, not very.)
Dahl famously hated the adaption of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, not really enjoying it because it took the focus away from the Charlie and put it on the antics of a Gene Wilder, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, Gene Wilder is pretty cool, but not as cool when you want to focus on a child’s point of view. So, then, that begs the question, what would he think of this heavily CGI’d “live action” adaption of the BFG? (Which stands for Big Friendly Giant, although it may have stood for other things, as Dahl was famous for hiding adult themes in his book.) It’s hard to say. It’s a perfectly ok movie.
By the way, I put “live action” in quotes because 90% of the film is animated. We need a new classification: putting a human actor in front of an animated giant for a majority of the film isn’t necessarily “live-action.” It’s Live-ish action? Maybe?
The BFG is about a young girl with precociousness oozing out of every pore named Sophie, who lives in an London Orphanage. If Charles Dickens is to be believed, the very worst kind of Orphanage. One night, while not sleeping when she should, she seems a large figure blowing magical dust of out of a trumpet, and is eventually taken by this man – the BFG – to the land of giants. There she learns that all of the other giants are evil (They eat humans), except for this particular giant, the BFG. He’s more fascinated with giving people dreams. Together, the two work together to stop the evil giants from eating more humans.
There’s not much to really say about this movie: it’s pretty harmless, I guess? Mark Rylance, direct from her performance as one of the spies (or possibly bridges… I didn’t understand much of it ) from Bridge of Spies, does a great job as the giant, tripping over words and inventing new ones, as Dahl often does. Ruby Barnhiill makes a cute orphan, one who is torn between wanting to go home… because she shouldn’t be in Giant Country, what with them wanting to eat her and all.. and not wanting to go home because what does she really need to go home to? Honestly her disappearance from London isn’t really addressed.
The movie itself, like the novel, breaks down to a series of vignettes that tells the story of their friendship. Steven Spielberg does what he does best, tapping into the wonders of childhood while on a fantastic adventure.
I don’t need a movie to have a lot of weight to enjoy it. I’ll say honestly i enjoyed it. I wouldn’t put it up there with Spielberg’s more ambitious works. He basically has created a cute movie that stays a little true to the original, even if it makes for a bit of a sadder ending then what was in the book.
The performances are solid, the CGI is nicely integrated, there are nice touches, like the Giants playing with real cars like they are toys, and nice cameos from the actors who spend most of their time in heavy CGI makeup.
It’s simply a perfectly fine movie.