Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney and Roald Dahl. It sounds like a match made in heaven – three storytelling giants who, at least in vision, live on today. So when they all come together, for Disney’s The BFG directed by Spielberg, we really should be in for a treat. And, you are – if you’re willing to stick through just over an hour of a complete mess to get there. The final act of this film is really, really good.
But even that act isn’t enough to get this film to a standard that a filmmaker of Spielberg’s stature should be held to. The BFG is a very average, forgettable movie, with the exception of one excellent speech that occurs at the end and the characterization and performance from Oscar-winner Mark Rylance as the titular giant. Outside of that, there’s no memorable visual scenes, which is almost unforgivable from the man who showed us E.T. cycling in front of the moon, the T-Rex bearing down on the Jurrasic Park jeep or Oskar Schindler breaking down at the conclusion of World War II.
He also gave us this memorable cinematic scene. What a legend.
The BFG, for anyone who hasn’t read Dahl’s novel, is the story of a Big Friendly Giant, who takes Sophie away from an orphanage when she spots him snooping around the London streets at night. Unwilling to kill and eat “human beans”, the BFG nonetheless cannot allow Sophie to return and tell anyone the secret of giants. Hiding Sophie from the other, bigger, meaner giants angers the BFG’s bretheren, and Sophie and the BFG are forced to work with the Queen of England in order to defeat the evil giants once and for all.
As mentioned earlier, the performance by Rylance was excellently done. Rylance, a star of the West End, broke into the mainstream with Spielberg’s previous film Bridge of Spies, earning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor over fan-favourite Sylvester Stallone, and my personal choice Mark Ruffalo. And he’s continued to show that he’s a very, very good actor.
Not that anyone will ever like him after he denied this thespian his Oscar. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The rest of the cast was OK, with other highlights being Flight of the Concords’ Jemaine Clement as cannibalistic giant Fleshlumpeater, Penelope Wilton as The Queen of England and newcomer Ruby Barnhill as the main character Sophie (although at times Barnhill did start overacting, though there’s been plenty of worse child actors throughout history, so it’s hard to be too critical of that).
The other thing that must be said for the movie is that it looks brilliant. While the effects on something a bit more substantial would have made for a better impact, it’s hard to deny the visual impact of this film just in pure colour, with the CGI rarely feeling fake. It doesn’t do too much, but it’s still very good looking (which seems to be a theme with films from the Mouse House these days).
Overall, I don’t think I can give any better of a review than one young lady loudly did leaving the theater. Asked by her equally loud friend what she thought of the film, the woman answered “Well, it was better than Alice.” Sums it up really. Could have been a lot worse. Needed to be a lot better.
3/5 – a strong finish doesn’t completely save a middling forgettable affair.
- This December, in case you missed it, Disney plan to smack the population of planet Earth around the ears once again with the release of another Star Wars film, the spin-off Rogue One. Many familiar elements will return for the film, including Darth Vader and the Death Star, but potentially not returning is the iconic opening crawl, where audiences get all their background exposition provided they are fast enough readers to get through it all before it disappears into the stars. Star Wars fans in Europe were reportedly so angry about this news that witnesses thought that they were actually soccer fans in town for the Euro 2016
“What do we want?” “Opening crawl!”
“When do we want it?” “Immediately after the Lucasfilm logo in the upcoming film Rogue One”
- Have you been wondering what Peter Jackson has been doing since completing work on The Hobbit? Or were you just glad that he was no longer doing any work on The Hobbit? Well, the New Zealand magazine Time Out has been wondering, and rather than ask fellow New Zealander Peter Jackson himself, they waited for an opportunity to ask Steven Spielberg what Jackson is doing instead. According to Spielberg, Jackson has two projects in the works, both with Spielberg acting as a producer. One of them was described as a “secret project”, which probably means it’s something small and uninteresting to a population that want every movie to be The Avengers. The other was a sequel to Spielberg’s 2011 film The Adventures of Tintin, which Spielberg has long since abandoned for other projects because, come on, who else is gonna direct West Side Story? Peter Jackson’s two upcoming films will be released whenever Jackson gets around to finishing the special effects, and will probably all be split into 3 movies.
- While Pixar studios have hitched themselves onto the sequel gravy train in recent years, Disney Animation hasn’t been as quick to join in on that party, with the only sequel that the studio itself has released since the 1930’s being the instant classic The Rescuers Down Under (all other sequels have been direct-to-video, or come through the low budget Disney Toon studio). But, this is all going to change, in some incredible news for those who hate originality. Wreck-It Ralph 2, the suitably titled sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, is due in theatres in 2018, beating even the in-development Frozen sequel to the big screen. Wreck-It Ralph remains the only movie based on video games to be any good, and generally gets a thumbs up from video game fans – or it would if any of them hadn’t destroyed their thumb’s potential to move as a child playing video games.
- Remember last week, with the announcement from Sony Pictures for the instant classic Emojimovie: Express Yourself? Well, Hollywood has continued to make brilliant movie ideas out of things that definitely should not be movies by announcing a 2019 release date for The Minecraft Movie. Based on the popular game where, as far as I can tell, walking block people things go and collect resources and build themselves a very nice house, The Minecraft Movie is unlikely to resonate with the game’s core audience, as seeing the movie in the theater probably means they have to leave their bedrooms.
- Director Roland Emmerich has announced his next project will be an action/disaster/sci-fi movie called Moonfall. Emmerich, whose filmography includes a wide variety of blockbusters, from the action/disaster/sci-fi Independence Day, to the classic 1998 action/disaster/sci-fi Godzilla, to 2012’s action/disaster/not-even-gonna-try-to-add-science,-fictional-or-otherwise 2012, is clearly looking forward to this next challenging project which will follow a band of misfits who have to stop the Moon falling out of orbit and into the Earth. I’d write a joke to end this paragraph, but nothing I say will be funnier that than plot description.