If you were fortunate enough to have Roald Dahl books in your home or at school as a kid, you must know the story of The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). I was a little too old when the book came out in 1982, but I do remember my sister loving all the Dahl books. And what a precious book it is. Take a Dahl book and mix it with Walt Disney Movie Studios along with Steven Spielberg as producer, and you have hit movie pay dirt!
I have to immediately point out the cinematography and effects in this movie as out of this world, but between Spielberg and Disney, I would not expect any less. Everyone (including myself) was mesmerized when the story literally comes alive on the screen. The 3D effects make this an even better experience.
It opens in the city of London, and you feel as if you have been captured and taken there yourself. We meet our star of the movie, Sophie, played by Ruby Barnhill. I was amazed to find out The BFG was Barnhill’s first serious acting gig. Barnhill is an 11-year-old young lady from Cheshire, England, where she is involved with the local youth theater. She is also the daughter of British actor, Paul Barnhill. This young lady steals the show! A simply flawless performance by the young actor. If this child actor can stay away from the pitfalls some have fallen into, I think we are seeing the birth of another delightful British actor! Barnhill is a force to be reckoned with in this film.
Sophie is housed at a London orphanage where the lady who runs it may not be the nicest or most responsible individual. We see Sophie taking on many roles of an adult throughout the home. She goes back to her bed late at night after doing these many activities the orphanage director should be doing and they occur around the “witching hour” (3:00 a.m.). Sophie goes to bed with her trusty flashlight and book in hand! She crawls under her blanket when she is suddenly alerted to something outside window. This is the point where the giant enters the picture.
The giant (voiced by Mark Rylance) is forced to take little Sophie to “Giant Land”. I must interject that Rylance gives a soulful performance as The BFG. The pair form a unique bond where they must rely on one another to get from different situations to another which include battling the carnivorous giants that The BFG must deal with on a daily basis. Their adventure lands them eventually a visit with the Queen of England herself.
The BFG assists The Queen and her royal forces to take down the giants in “Giant Land” as mysterious things have been happening all over England. Everyone is quite certain these giants have something to do with this mystery. Before attempting to conquer the giants, the BFG is given a hero’s welcome which is a tear-jerking sight; I can admit, it was not the only one.
The bond between Sophie and the BFG is a strong one between a fatherly figure and friend. There is nothing that the BFG would not do for Sophie as he shows throughout the movie. It is a classic tale of good and bad plus the bond that can occur between humans. If the world took the approach of being able to connect to people different than them, it would be a much better place. You will also notice other actors involved in the movie such as Bill Hader, Rafe Spall, Penelope Wilton, Jermaine Clement, and Mary Hall. Good definitely wins out over evil.
Whatever you do, I recommend reading the book especially with younger children. It will help prepare them for the premise of the movie. My almost 5-year-old assistant, Jonah, did great in the movie, but I can see how kids could get easily frightened in parts. Plus, this book is a treasure in addition to the movie. Watching The BFG come to life on the big screen is something to see. If you can handle 3D movies, I highly recommend that you see it in 3D as I said. My assistant gave it two thumbs up and an “Awesome!” Jonah, I have to agree with you, buddy! Awesome indeed. Take a look at the trailer and judge for yourself. The BFG comes to theaters near you on July 1, 2016. | Tracy Fort
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