Saturday, 3 September 2016

The BFG (a review of the film) by Sharon Tregenza

Note: In case anyone doesn't know Roald Dahl's "BFG" - Beware spoilers.

Last weekend I took my grandchildren to see The BFG. I was excited. I mean, a combination of Roald Dahl, Steven Spielberg and Mark Rylance? That sounded like a Holy Trinity to me.

It starts well.

Moody and mystical and set in a pseudo-Victorian London complete with spooky orphanage. The BFG disguised himself against the buildings in the shadows of a swirling fog. And then there was that terrifying moment when the giant hand comes in through the window, plucks Sophie from her bed and runs off with her.

But then, but then...

The film slows almost to a stop. We were in the land of dreams for far too long. It was beautiful with plenty of swirly lights and colours, but there was too much dialogue and I found myself nodding off (although to be fair a family gathering with plenty of wine the night before may have had something to do with that).

Except it wasn't just me. There was general squirming and fidgeting from the children in the audience and the volume of soft-drink slurping and sweet paper crackling rose considerably.

I think they missed a trick with the dream thing too. There was one sequence with a boy who talked to the president on the phone, but it felt incidental and was instantly forgettable. Dreams and CGI? What a gift. They could have done so much with that.

It was left to the last act to jolt everyone out of their stupor. And it did. A right royal farcical piece set in a modern day Buckingham Palace. The Queen of England, and her corgis, farting gloriously after drinking the BFG's fizzy "frobscottle" was a great success. There was laughter in the cinema for the fist time.

I think Speilberg's BFG was flawed, but charming in parts. Perhaps too long an adaptation of a slender book. Mark Rylance was brilliant and lit up the screen with his huge CGI smile and Ruby Barnhill is a perfect Sophie.

My grandchildren enjoyed it. Or at least they said they did. Thinking about it now, they may well have been humouring me because I wanted so much for them to like it. It's the sort of thing they would do. :)


Sue Bursztynski said...

Well, my young family members certainly enjoyed it, judging by their chuckles, as did the other kids in the cinema, as did I. And wasn't it delightful to see "Harriet Jones PM" as the Queen! ("Yes," say the Daleks, "we know who you are.")

Sue Purkiss said...

I agree that the part in the Land of the Giants was too long and too slow, but thought the part in the palace more than made up for it. My grandson loved it - but he's a few years younger than yours, so maybe that's the difference? Loved the corgis!

Sharon Tregenza said...

Yes, it's always going to be subjective of course. There were certainly delightful bits.