It is clear from the start that Spielberg hopes to recapture the magic and wonder of his earlier films (Jurassic Park, ET) with this new adaptation of Roald Dahls beloved novel. However this wonder, much like the dreams of Giant country, is hard to bottle and The BFG fails to live up to the standard of family entertainment that Spielberg has built a career on; instead we are left with a film filled with a lot of whimsy and imagination but little sincerity, less a classic of cinema and more a movie entirely for children.
Any adaptation comes with problems and The BFG is no exception; translating Dahls short novel into a full length film leaves the pacing in tatters, a stretched out first half feels repetitive and frankly boring whilst the second half crams in most of the plot – the result is practically whiplash. Its faithfulness as an adaptation is also its downfall in reaching an adult audience; potty humour, poorly developed characters and clichés all confine this film to purely kids territory and while Spielberg does put across Dahls extraordinarily creative ideas in a visually stunning way, it is not enough in this transcendent age of childrens entertainment to keep adults invested. Regardless, those young enough to enjoy the film will certainly have a good time and Spielberg has it least given us a simple film to encourage the imagination of children and teach them important morals like not to judge on appearances; The BFG is not a masterpiece but it certainly deserves a lot of merit.
The one phenomenal part of The BFG is really Mark Rylance whose performance is so strong that it makes you truly believe in a big friendly giant and makes you believe despite the characters frequent falls into the uncanny valley – sadly a lot of the visual effects took me out of the film and I believe will age it a lot quicker than the timeless effects of Jurrassic Park. Ruby Barnhill also delivers a strong performance but, and I believe this may be the fault of the film itself, she is made to overpronouce everything which, rather than add charm, comes across as overpolished and unbelievable; delivered like a pantomime. The same could certainly be said for the one note villains whose simplicity leaves them identitical to the mindless threats of countless childrens films; they add again to the underlying problem of the movie not satisfying a more mature audience.
The BFG will provide an entertaining and imaginative time for children but, with Spielberg at the helm and Rylance in the lead, one would expect much more; though it strives for the timeless wonder and magic of ET, I doubt this adaptation will reach the same heights as its predecessors.