HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The BFG
HTS Overall Score:88
Roald Dahl is one of the most prolific and well respected children’s author of the last century. He’s written dozens of stories and they all have a wide range of textures and tones to them. Some are whimsical and sweet like “Matilda”, others are quirky and bizarre like “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”, while others are extremely difficult to bring to the big screen due to being “out there”. “The BFG” was one of those childhood books that I read over and over again as a young one, but never in a million years dreamed we’d get a full length feature film (despite the animated one some years back) due to how odd it is. However, after “Hugo” came out I could actually see Spielberg doing something like “The BFG”, and even went so far as to mention it in passing during a film debate with some friends. Low and behold, some years later I had forgotten about the conversation and was shocked to see the initial trailer for a film I never expected to get made. To make it even better it WAS directed by Steven Spielberg. So color me extremely eager to watch a childhood dream come to life in theaters.
Like most of Dahl’s stories, “The BFG” is focused on a disenfranchised young child. This go around it’s an orphan by the name of Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who we’re being introduced to. She’s a bit of an insomniac and happens to notice a giant figure in her window one night when she can’t sleep. This giant realizes he can’t just let her go since she’s seen him, so he grabs her and takes her back off to his home in the heart of giant country. This giant (nicknamed BFG as shorthand for Big Friendly Giant) is a bit of an odd creature. His fellow giants will take little children from their beds and munch on them like so many potato chips in front of the telly, but not the BFG (Mark Rylance). No siree bob. He would rather eat fruit and vegetables instead of growing even bigger and crueler like the rest of his race (he’s kind of a runt as giants go).
However, just because the BFG is a kindly guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly doesn’t mean that Sophie is safe. The rest of the giant folk lumbering around are soon to find out that the BFG is keeping a little human being in their lair and will be coming around to take a bite. The BFG and Sophie try to hold off the inevitability of reality for as long as they can, frolicking in the world of dreams that the BFG uses to bestow upon children and bonding in a kindly way. But sooner or later they have to face the fact that Sophie is NOT safe there.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85610[/img]“The BFG” is nothing short of a magical experience. Spielberg has had a bit of a rough patch for the last decade, but ever since last year’s “Bridge of Spies” he has gained a second wind in his directorial choices. The flavor and style of “Hugo” (yes I know it was Scorsesee but the visual style is so similar) with the wonderfully vibrant storytelling of Roald Dahls and Spielberg’s light handed touch creates a story that is sweet and loving while bizarre and fantastical at the same time. The whole story is told from the perspective of Sophie and the actual events that play out are formed from a child’s mind. Thus some of the actions and words spoken by the characters reflect that childlike simplicity and naivety throughout. The part with the queen and the taking down of the giants seems silly and almost stupidly simple to us adults, but if you realize that the events are told from a child’s simplistic take on life than it makes perfect sense.
The story is very laid pack, with a quiet, but steady, pace that just coasts along until the last ½ of the movie when the BFG and Sophie decide to take care of the vicious giants once and for all. With it being as slow paced and methodical as it is one would expect “The BFG” to be a bit boring. However, it is nothing of the sort. The slower pace allows for the giant and Sophie to bond and create their friendship organically, which makes the last act enough to give even the most hardened and jaded adult a small case of the sniffles.
What makes the movei work so exquisitely is part largely due to Spielberg choosing Mark Rylance to play the titular character. Rylance is one of the most decorated and accomplished stage actors of our generation, but he is also a master of film acting as well. Spielberg chose him for the Russian spy in “Bridge of Spies”, where he was nominated for an academy award, and his portrayal of the BFG is out of this world. The shy and quirky vocal patterns that Rylance is so good at are amplified on screen and the CGI character just brims with an excitable and believable energy that the audience can almost feel with their bare hands. Little Ruby Barnhill works perfectly as his live action counterpoint and her youthful exuberance and naïve outlook on life blends seamlessly with Rylance’s quirky role as the bashfully shy and sweet giant.
Rated PG for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85618[/img]Holy moly. I’ve always been very pleased with Disney day and date releases, but “The BFG” is nothing short of jaw dropping perfection. Blending incredible amounts of CGI against a live action backdrop, Spielberg has created a visual tour de force that really is one of the best looking Blu-rays I’ve seen in ages. The colors are bright and wildly saturated with deep dips into dark shadows and rich neon colorings for the dreams and the like. The green grace is sometimes obviously CGI, but most of the time it is just lusciously created with rich greens and earthy browns for the giant’s lair. Blacks are deeeeep and inky, with no signs of black crush, washed out greying blacks or digital artifacting of any kind. In fact I couldn’t see ANY artifacting at all, and I was actively looking for it too. Fine detail is resplendent, from the course weave of the BFG’s roughhewn clothing, to the fine wood grain of the lab where he does his work. CGI is a mainstay of the film, and while it is not 100% photorealistic yet due to technology not being THAT good, it is some of the best human based CGI that I’ve ever seen.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85626[/img]A good video track is only half of the picture (pun intended), and Disney doesn’t skimp with an amazing sounding DTS-HD MA 7.1 track for us to enjoy today. Right from the beginning we’re clued into the fact that this is going to be a powerful and rather immersive experience. The rustling of Sophie’s blanket rasps across the floor in the background, while the BFG’s footsteps reverberate with raw, visceral bass. The scene where he takes Sophie into his lair and she’s looking around in fright is absolutely incredibly immersive, with the sounds of his footsteps smashing down, and the whisper of clothing scraping against a board, or the sound of dishes clattering in the background. LFE is not just reserved for the BFG and his footsteps. The rest of the giants shake the wall whenever they walk and the battle scene with the military at the end will definitely make your walls flex. Dialog is crisp and clean, and leaves nothing to the imagination. Easily one of the beast audio experiences I’ve had recently.
• Bringing "The BFG" to Life – Ruby Barnhill (Sophie) hosts a phizz-whizzing journey through the making of "The BFG." This behind-the-scenes documentary details the film's progression through interviews with Roald Dahl's daughter Lucy Dahl, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, executive producers Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Kristie Macosko Krieger, and numerous members of the talented cast and crew.
• The Big Friendly Giant and Me – Sophie wasn't the first "bean" in Giant Country—many illustrations were created as if drawn by a little boy who was there long before Sophie. This charming, in-world short will bring the drawings to life with animation and narration, recounting the friendship and the dreams shared between the boy and the Big Friendly Giant.
• Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of The BFG – A whoopsey-splunkers tutorial on the meaning of the gloriumptious gobblefunk in "The BFG."
• Giants 101 – Jemaine Clement (Fleshlumpeater) and Bill Hader (Bloodbottler) introduce us to the loathsome giants in "The BFG," along with movement choreographer/motion capture performer Terry Notary, who collaborated with the actors and Director Steven Spielberg prior to filming to develop their movements and character traits.
• Melissa Mathison: A Tribute – An homage to Melissa Mathison, the extraordinary, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of "The BFG" and "E.T.," whose talent and heart were as immense as the giants in "The BFG."
“The BFG” was one of two Disney live action films that came out over the summer, and while “The BFG” was considered a giant financial flop (making $177 million on a $140 million budget) compared to “Peter’s Dragon”, it is easily the better of the two films. Magically intoxicating and bizarrely unique, Roal Dahl’s famous book is finally brought to the big screen in a way that only a high budget of CGI and Steven Spielberg’s take on fantasy could pull off. I had a few problems with some of the pacing during the final act, but it is a very faithful replication of the source material and a wonderfully charming and loveable movie as well. In true Disney form the audio and video are nothing short of spectacular, but sadly the extras are a tad lacking. Definitely worth checking out.
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Melissa Mathison (Screenplay), Roald Dahl (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1, English Descriptive Services DD 2.0
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 118 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 29th, 2016
Buy The BFG On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Recommended for a Watch
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