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[Review] – ‘The BFG’


Release Date: 1 July 2016
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Melissa Mathison [Screenplay] - Roald Dahl [Book]
Cast: Mark Rylance - Ruby Barnhill - Penelope Wilton



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Posted July 31, 2016 by

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It is the Witching Hour and little Sophie wanders, like she has always done, around Mrs. Clonkers Orphanage, picking up after her irresponsible ward and telling off rowdy drunks for ruckusing. A bump in the night brings her to the bedroom window and she witnesses something gobsmacking; a ginormous hooded figure lurking in the street. Before she can hide, it snatches her up and whisks her away to Giant Country. In this land of dim-witted, blood-thirsty behemoths, she soon finds out that her giant is rather friendly.

We open up in a London more reminiscent of Diagon Alley and a creaky orphanage that is positively Dickensian. Five minutes in and the artistic appearance of the film is already assuring. Then we catch our first glimpse of the BFG himself in a rather frightening and excellent reveal.

His cavernous home is cluttered with a fascinating mesh of furniture made from road signs and wooden sail ships. The BFG’s workshop is yet more impressive, putting in mind the sets from Spielberg’s Hook greatly enlarged. As for Dream Country, words struggle to catch its arresting beauty.

Dahl’s duo is brought to wondrous life by Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. Little Sophie’s awe, fear and amazement shines through the screen for the audience to absorb. As for Rylance, he is utterly captivating and addictive to watch. The scale of compassion is immeasurable and it doesn’t matter that his performance is this compendium of CGI enhancement and multi-layered filming. The end result, with the BFG walking with Sophie like a parrot on his shoulder, is enchanting. Kudos too for Jemaine Clement as Fleshlump Eater, the leader of the big, bad giants, who is as menacing as he is funny and stupid.

The production has stuck faithfully to Dahl’s classic book. The butchered yet charming English (“Is I right or is I left?”, “crockadown-dillies”, “tele-tele bunkum box) never grates. The movie embraces fully the silliness and eccentricity of the source. The messages are of loneliness, acceptance, rejecting ignorance and striving for peace and love. The BFG is often irritated by Sophie’s grammar-Nazism despite the meanings of what he says appearing clear. Helping to heighten the wonder is John Williams score, described as “children’s ballet”.

For Spielberg to adapt Roald Dahl’s timeless children’s classic is a marriage made in cinematic heaven. For young, old and everyone in between, the BFG is a magical movie of splendiferous proportions.


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Michael Keyes
Silences Band
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