Rubie Barnhill stars as Sophie – a young orphan girl with insomnia who wanders the halls of her orphanage believing the witching hour is 3 AM. One night, she sees the Big Friendly Giant (voice by Mark Rylance) wandering the streets and delivering dreams, but he decides he must kidnap the girl and take her to Giant Country, so she doesn’t reveal the existence of his kind.
Of course, Giant Country is full of other giants who are much bigger and nastier than The BFG, and these big old meanies find little children to be quite tasty.
Can The BFG protect little Sophie, or will she become finger food for a giant?
The BFG is a disappointment, but not a failure.
Director Steven Spielberg and the team deliver some amazing animation of the giants and The BFG’s cave lair full of the dreams he has captured, knick knacks he has collected and other goodies that help the audience understand his past and personality.
Plus, Rylance is perfect at bringing the character to life and making The BFG into a lovable, rascally old man with muddled English and grammatical errors that will entertain the kids. However, the parents might be put off by the muddled storytelling.
Most of The BFG is a movie full of wonder, danger and imagination to lure the audience into this fantasy world, but the movie fails when it’s time to tell a story and go beyond the visual aesthetic.
The final act comes out of nowhere as Spielberg and writer Melissa Matheson suddenly insert a plot calling upon The BFG and Sophie to search out help to stop the big bully giants from eating Sophie and treating The BFG like some sort of runt and football to be tossed around. Spielberg and Matheson fail to keep the magic flowing when the two worlds of Great Britain and Giant Country collide, even though it is in the book. The delivery is mangled here.
They also can’t stop their Liberal streaks from showing as they seem to go out of their way to toss in a quick, superfluous jab at Ronald Reagan. It takes us out of the fantasy.
Young Barnhill proves to be a very charming young actor, but she does not benefit from being the one human actor inserted into all of those CGI scenes of Giant Country.
While the actual backgrounds and characters look amazing and lifelike, the Sophie character looks like she doesn’t belong in those shots. Sure, Spielberg can be making a commentary about how the two worlds don’t mesh, but I think this is more a fault of the team to make her seamless in those scenes.
Ultimately, you can’t lose when the chemistry between Barnhill and Rylance is this good, so it’s entertaining enough.
2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)
The BFG is rated PG for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor.