Spielberg’s latest offering has not had a giant reception, perhaps, but at least from Roald Dahl lovers it received a warm welcome. As with most children’s movies, a certain suspension of disbelief is required – but for all that, the film is certainly suited for family fun.
Barnhill’s inquisitive and (let’s be honest) rather stubborn Sophie exasperates and delights with her precociousness, winning over even the reluctant BFG, with whom it is impossible not to sympathise. A children’s film this may be, and yet I cannot help wondering at the life of this imaginary character – fraught with loneliness, no doubt, for giants have no parents and the BFG is ostracised even from his own kind. The revelation of a little boy before Sophie’s time only compounds this sense of isolation – for older viewers know all too well what has happened, and in the words “‘Was he scared?’ ‘At the end’,” there is a whole world of devastation.
Perhaps the minor issues of 1. a rather ambitious attempt to merge live-action and animation (frankly, sticking to just animation might have been better, despite truly lovely performances from the cast), 2. absolutely no regard for the passage of time (my friends and I were all rather confused as to the exact span of the movie given the rather unpredictable sun-ups and sun-downs) and 3. wacky proportions/ratios (somehow human helicopters were able to transport the 9 man-eating giants, despite their being (bean? 😉 ) significantly larger than the BFG, who himself already dwarfs the humans of Her Majesty’s population), could have been overlooked with a more circumspect ending, but in this the movie failed to satisfy. While I cannot attest to having read the full book (as it turns out, I may have only read the certain portion of it that exists in the Roald Dahl Treasury), I was reliably informed (thanks Sarah) that the BFG and Sophie received a HEA together, a fact my ever-faithful friend Google confirmed, and yet the movie adaptation chose to have Sophie adopted and parted from her best friend, who returns to Giant Country to eke out a miserable existence as the last of his kind. (Okay, so the gentle giant betrayed the rest deliberately and without remorse because they are quite obviously the villains here not to mention ‘cannibals’, and his existence now appears quite prosperous and peaceful, one flourishing garden included and all, BUT STILL!) Perhaps an adoption for Sophie would be more realistic than letting her go off to the wilds forever à la Tarzan, but let’s face it – this is a kid’s movie, about giants – what need there be for realism?
In spite of the seemingly multiple defects listed above, this truly is a touching story reminiscent of its titular protagonist, and well worth the watch for family night. John Williams’ genius was impressed upon me by my own BFFs, who were in raptures over the accompanying score, and I personally absolutely LOVED the scene involving the BFG in Buckingham Palace (immature perhaps, but who can resist adorable corgis and farting fun!*)
Scoring on the Liz scale of movie awesomeness:
+50 BFG backstory ft. boy-child omg
-30 stupid ending ugh
+20 beaut soundtrack, I admit
+15 brave (and questionable) heroine (Q: Who jumps off a balcony to prove that a person will be there to catch them? A: Sophie. Of course.)
-20 weird mesh of animation and reality???
+20 everybody’s favourite giant, Rubeus Hagrid notwithstanding (what, he’s half, it doesn’t count??!)
Verdict? “We is in Dream Country.” (a.k.a. accept it dahl, it was only just a dream…)
*hmm, now reconsidering statement from earlier blog post that I have matured too much for kids movies