Dreams and Broken English – The BFG (2016)

I wish this was better.  So having nothing to do with the video game Doom, this is based on a Roald Dahl story about an orphan girl (Ruby Barnhill) that crosses paths with a giant (Mark Rylance).  Turns out that giants have a pretty bad rap, as most of them eat humans, but the giant she befriends is a vegetarian who is only interested in doing his job: harvesting dreams and distributing them during the witching hour on the streets of London.  Now this is a children’s book that I am familiar with, but it has been a long, LONG time.  I’m talking decades (plural) since I last picked this up, so I can’t say that it is all that fresh in my brain.  I don’t know if it is simply because I’m an adult now, but I could not for the life of me get into this story.

2And it’s not like I wanted to have a bad time with this, I genuinely wanted to like this.

This is directed by Spielberg, who is obviously a competent hand, but if this wasn’t him at the helm, I feel like this would be pretty poor.  Even with him in the director’s chair, I don’t feel like this is a story that translates terribly well to the big screen.  I did like this when this first started, and I thought all of the bits that Spielberg executes to force perspective were clever; he actually manages to make you to believe this giant that is the size of house has tricks up his sleeve that allow him to walk around undetected.  After that was done, that’s about the point where I hopped off.  What I wanted from this movie was to feel a sense of wonder, but as the story went on and on, it became less and less about that.  I don’t even know if Spielberg is the right person for this; with this much CG and real life graphics clashing, it never really comes together.  I don’t know who I would get to direct this over him, because it clearly isn’t Bryan Singer after Jack and the Giant Slayer (seriously, I don’t know why doing giants onscreen is so hard to do right).  I did like the effect of the BFG, and Rylance is a good fit for the role, but I kind of hated all of the other giants; they are this goof troupe with no individual personalities apart from Jermaine Clement’s giant, and it gets straight up silly with what they try to pull.  When this movie turns into physical comedy, you don’t really know how to react.

1It gives the movie a jolt of life, but not in a good way.  Sort of like being resuscitated by an ex-girlfriend.

This is still Spielberg, so there are small parts that work, but the thing that I felt most walking away from this is that this is for very small children, and that is about it.  There is nothing here for anybody that is age 13 and up, and even then, that might be pushing it a little bit too old.  All of the nonsense talking wears thin very early on, and I was about ready for this to be over pretty quickly.  It also has an odd sensation of feeling very skimpy on plot, but they still felt compelled to stretch 45 minutes of material to a two hour runtime.  I didn’t care for this, but I suppose you could do worse if you tried.

The BFG (2016) **1/2

– Critic for Hire


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