The BFG is a film that not only doesn’t live up to anyone’s expectations but is just simply a bad film. Silly (not in a good way) horrifically uninteresting and at least half an hour too long, this film disappoints giantly. Ha. Ha.Ha
I went and saw The BFG with one of my friends a few days ago. My friend had absolutely no expectations going in, I had quite a few more. Despite the fact I hadn’t seen the original film in years or read the book in probably a lot longer I distinctly remember them both being good. I remember them as fun at times and frighteningly scary at others in a way that was really amazing for a kids adventure film and made it exciting. But surely cinema master Spielberg can make a far better film? I thought as I walked in. After what felt like two days but I’m assured was 120 minutes I walked out of the cinema thinking how wrong I had been. And here are the reasons why:
Number One: Pacing
Possibly the most important part of any film is keeping your audience interested at all times. For this film I would have taken at least some of the time. But no, there are massive stretches of the film where it feels like absolutely nothing is happening. The worst thing is if I give a quick list of well paced films: Jaws, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan, they all have one thing in common… Spielberg. So where has he gone wrong with this film? Because after Sophie gets picked up by The BFG nothing interesting happens for about 50 minutes. in the mean time they just sit and talk to one another. That is literally it. Not only is this uninteresting if not handled well (which it is not) but its just about the opposite of why film was invented: to tell story through IMAGES not words! In fact I could forgive dull scenes of dialogue if it were filmed from an interesting point of view or with unique camera movement, but there’s simply none! And these are the things Spielberg’s famous for! The best we do get are some long takes from time to time but if long takes are just showing dull scenes they just make them seem even more long and dull, they have to be used right in order to work. The worst scene of the film for terrible pacing is a scene where watch the BFG have dinner. For about 10 minutes! And it feels like half an hour! But lets move on!
Number Two: Child Actors
Now, I’m not saying i hate all child actors because i really don’t. Some of them are amazing for their age and give a performance every bit as believable and emotional as an adult can. The actress for Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is not one of these child actors. Her emotions are unbelievable and limited mainly to slight interest or happiness, so there’s no realistic range of emotion whatsoever and that makes her character impossible to identify with and detracts from the film greatly. In fact she just comes across as really annoying, needy and stupid which is not a good role model for the children watching. How much of it is down to poor writing and how much is down to the actress is hard to tell. But we should move on!
Number 3: Humour
Children’s films should be funny. this is a basic requirement. The worst children’s films are funny just for the kids. The best one’s (Like Shrek and most things Disney makes) are funny for everyone watching, no matter their age or preference for comedy. The BFG is (at best) the worst kind. Its jokes (and there’s surprisingly few) are on the intelligence level of this: farts are funny. I’m not joking, that’s the level we’re dealing with. There are two entire scenes in fact dedicated to fart jokes and one of them’s over 5 minutes long! That’s one 24th of the entire movie dedicated to one fart joke. They could have spent that time developing characters, furthering the plot putting in some spectacular action. But instead there’s a fart joke. What happened to you Spielberg?!
Number 4: The Ending
Endings are important. They determine how your audience feels leaving the cinema and will tarnish they’re view of the film. Really good endings in fact change the way you view events that happened earlier in the film. I won’t ruin The BFG’s ending but it doesn’t change anything because all you need to know is that its bitterly disappointing. I thought to myself in my boredom at least the ending would be exciting but i was wrong. Everything gets solved in five minutes with absolutely no difficulty and then it ends. it definitely leaves you with a feeling, but I don’t think they were aiming for regret and disappointment.
Now, partly just so I don’t seem biased and partly because there are actually (believe it or not) good things in this film that deserve a mention I’m going to devote some time to redeeming features. And there’s a whole two of them!
The BFG himself is rendered beautifully through the use of CGI to an almost photo-realistic level that serves as a big technical achievement. It really is amazing how far CGI has come since the early days and I think this film will still look good in 10 years time which is saying something! He’s also well animated with movements being fluid and natural looking. These together make the BFG a more identifiable and believable character and therefore redeems the film a little bit. Like a tiny bit. A smidge. But good CGI doesn’t make up fro poor direction, pace and writing.
Fresh off his Oscar win last year Mark Rylance continues to show his acting ability as the voice behind the titular character. Rylance brings Warmth and depth to the BFG making him as lovable as ever as well as perfecting the west country accent The BFG is famous for. So well done Mark! Shame about the rest of the film.
Sophie: Why did you take me?
The BFG: Because I hears your lonely heart, in all the secret whisperings of the world.
While not totally irredeemable, The BFG is a bad film. This comes as a real disappointment to me as both a fan of the original and of Spielberg in general. But abysmal pacing, poor child acting and terrible humour redeemed slightly with good CGI, make this movie a good looking but total mess of a film. Not recommended!