Starring: Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Running time: 1 hour 57 mins
Walt Disney Films
Our Score: 5 out of 5 Stars
Film Review by Mike Smith
In 1982, director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison teamed up to create one of the greatest family films of all time, “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.” Both earned Oscar nominations for their work, with the film earning a nod for Best Picture and taking home the prize for John William’s amazing musical score. More than a quarter-century later, the band is back together and history just may repeat itself.
London in the early 1980s. As the city sleeps, young Sophie (Barnhill) walks about the orphanage she calls home, taking in the various sights and sounds of the night. It’s 3:00 a.m. The Witching Hour. Sophie recites the three rules: Never Get Out Of Bed; Never Look Out the Window; Never Look Behind the Curtain. Sadly she doesn’t follow them, and in doing so spots a rather tall shape making its way through the dark streets. Realizing that the “shape” has seen her she retreats to her bed. First place they look!
Based on Roald Dahl’s book, in the hands of director Spielberg, “The BFG” becomes a new masterpiece that the whole family will enjoy. And while Spielberg is obviously the captain of this amazing ship, what makes it great is the performance of Mark Rylance. Revered on the stage, Rylance had done a total of eleven films in 30 years before he rose to fame with an Academy Award winning performance in Spielberg’s Cold War-era thriller “Bridge of Spies.” I wouldn’t be surprised if this film makes him the first actor nominated for a vocal performance only.
The story follows Sophie as she ends up in Giant Country, only to learn that the BFG (which is what she calls the Big Friendly Giant) is really rather small in the neighborhood. There are nine giants must bigger than BFG and they love the taste of little children. Which surely proposes a problem for young Miss Sophie. As we follow the mismatched pair, we learn about the magic of dreams and nightmares and even spend a little time with Queen Elizabeth II. Rylance’s performance helps the film jump off the screen and Spielberg shows he is still a master behind the camera. To use the BFG’s own words, “The BFG” is “Scrumdidilyumptous!”