It’s been a long time since Melissa Mathison put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, or typewriter, you get the idea. It’s been a while since she has written anything. So it is with some surprise that she does so with a Roald Dahl classic in The BFG and then has Steven Spielberg direct and Mark Rylance star!
You may have read or noticed some reviews of The BFG floating around already. To say they’re not very favourable is probably a nice way of putting it. I was confused though, how could Spielberg and Rylance get a Roald Dahl book wrong on the screen? Surely not?
Well I’m afraid to say it’s true. This is not a good version of The BFG. I mention Mathison at the start as it was she is responsible for the screenplay. Now there’s no doubting she can write, she did write E.T. and The Black Stallion. But the last film she wrote was in 1997 and it’s fair to say it was not a hit. Kundun anyone? No, me neither.
The problem with The BFG is that it is long. It’s a PG rated film, squarely aimed at children, and yet it comes in at just shy of two-hours. If that’s not bad enough, after 45 minutes I was left feeling like I’d been watching for hours already. It’s slow. Very slow. It labours through the storyline with very little of the word play magic and comedy that punctuate the book.
Rylance is good as BFG and Ruby Barnhill (4 O’Clock Club) is good as Sophie but neither are given a tremendous amount to play with. Somehow, somewhere, the magic has been lost between the book and the film. The laughter, the playfulness, the fun has just vanished. We’re left with quite a serious film that plods along at a snail’s pace and then, when it does pick up, it’s over before you’ve had chance to say snozzcumber.
The CGI is ok but it didn’t exactly set my world on fire though I’ve no doubt children will have fun imaging themselves in that world. However, there were times when The BFG was supposed to be looking at Sophie, or talking to someone but didn’t appear to be looking at them at all. And on the one hand some parts are intricately detailed, others seem to have been forgotten about all together.
In the end, it misses the mark and I’d be surprised if it makes back it’s estimated $140,000,000 budget. What a shame.