Steven Spielberg directs this live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl's timeless story in a film that may not have done all that well domestically but was a success everywhere else. The Summer release may not have been a good fit for what seemed like more of a Christmas-friendly film but it did OK.
The BFG stars Mark Rylance in the titular role and follows young orphan girl Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) as she is taken by The Big Friendly Giant one night because she knows about his existence and can never reveal it. On paper, this may sound like a somewhat creepy synopsis but the film couldn't be sweeter as Sophie and The BFG become friends and the latter shows her where dreams literally come from. Unfortunately, some man-eating giants who live nearby start sensing a human in the vicinity and The BFG fears for Sophie's safety. The motion-capture and visual effects used to bring the giants and their world to life are impressive and make something like Jack The Giant Slayer look like a home movie. Rylance proves to be the perfect choice to play The BFG and this certainly feels like a Spielberg movie despite it being mostly special effects the entire time.
While it's definitely an expensive-looking blockbuster, it feels relatively small in scale and it keeps the spirit of Roald Dahl's story intact by focusing on the two leads' genuinely sweet relationship. It never gets cheesy, definitely a plus, and the darker moments such as the story of the last little kid who met The BFG, keep things from getting too whimsical, something that the likes of Hugo or even Spielberg's own Hook badly needed. The giants (voiced by Jemaine Clement and Bill Hader, among others) are a real threat throughout and, although there aren't many big action set-pieces in the film, whenever a chase or attack happens it's just as exciting as you'd expect it to be, if sometimes a little brief. The start of the third act, which sees Sophie and The BFG meet the Queen of England is more cartoonish than the rest but it's still a lot of fun.
It's a shame that Disney overreached its output by releasing so many big movies last year and The BFG got lost in the mix because this is a really well made, completely enjoyable and adorable kids' movie which should become a family favourite pretty quickly.
(That means: Pretty Friggin' Good)