Let me start by saying I am a fan of Steven Spielberg's work and consider him to be one of the greatest directors of all time. Movies like Jurassic Park, Jaws, Raiders Of ThebLost Ark, Last Crusade, Always, Lincoln, Schindler's List, ET, Hook, Minority Report, Amistad, AI, and War Of The Worlds not only entertained me greatly but also had a profound impact on me growing up as a lover of film. Spielberg is so consistent of a filmmaker in regards to his quality of work that you know what to expect when you see his name attached to a movie. When you see a trailer for a movie that says from director Steven Spielberg, you know what kind of film you're getting as its going to be both an emotional piece as well as a visual spectacle with a grand production. His movies are the kinds of film's that feel like they carry magic when you watch them as well as being the kinds of film's you go to film school to learn from if one aspires to be a filmmaker or simply if they want to know about what makes a movie great. His movies carry a great ounce of humanity to them while also making you feel like a kid again whose watching a magic trick. Nothing can ever replace the feeling I felt upon watching the dinosaurs appear in Jurassic Park for the first time. Before watching this movie, I must confess that I have never read the book BFG as a child but the trailers impressed me with its visual style as well as Spielberg's involvement which drew me in. Having not read the book however gave me no hesitation in going into this movie as I know Spielberg was going to present to me a journey that makes one feel like they were a child again. I mean how could Spielberg fail when he has made so many great film's under his belt. While that answer is he most def can as he is human like everyone else and has his dark horse moments such as making film's like 1941, The Lost World Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull but those moments are so uncommon with Spielberg it's a rarity that he misses the mark. Having now watched BFG and being able to comment on its quality, I can most definitely say with ease that Spielberg did not mess this movie up but it's also doesn't rank among being one of his best works as a filmmaker.
BFG is a visually spectacular film that looks great cinematically and even comes across as being a decent fast paced movie for children but it also feels like Spielberg phoned it in as it relies on much sentimentality to tell it's story. The story centers around a young girl who befriends a big friendly giant individual, who seems intimidating at first but turns out to be a harmless and kind person, who was outcast by the other giants for his refusal to eat children. One could almost say that this is Spielberg's attempt at creating another unique friendship movie much like his classic ET as the film feels childish with a family adventure feel to it. The relationship between the young girl and the giant is the heart of the film making the audience become intrigued by its story and ultimately caring about the giant in the end. The scenes with BFG visiting the Queen are among the film's main highlights as they carry charm and project the audiences feeling of awe as the characters in the movie Marvel at the giant creature as we do. The music by John Williams is standard with no true tune shining through this time and the editing moving at a decent pace. Despite the movie looking great visually and overall being worthy of a watch, the problem lies within the fact that the film isn't very memorably long after its over. It doesn't have the long lasting appeal to it that other Spielberg film's have and feels like he directed the picture out of curiosity in terms of how he would handle the story but didn't helm it with his full heart. The film almost feels like him giving us the long awaited sequel to ET that we never got except the second time around isn't as amazing as the first and everything feels as if it's going through the motions. I'm not saying that Spielberg phoned this one in, it's more of a statement and acknowledgement that even though he crafted a solid pictures there's been much better film's on his resume that stuck out more and had a deeper impact. On a visual scale, Spielberg remains one of film's greatest visionary filmmakers as he always tries to break new ground with his work in regards to technology and storytelling. Here he tries no different but wants audiences to care deeply about these characters and become invested in its story but the problem is unless you are someone who grew up falling in love with this book and adore it you're going to most likely agree that Spielberg's latest effort is worthy of a recommendation but isn't the great cinematic experience it couldve been. For a film that has a dark theme such as giants eating children, the film feels a bit mushy and Teddy best like as if Spielberg deliberately left out all the dark aspects of the book. Perhaps he felt it would ultimately be too frightening for children or too intense for families, but one wishes he balanced both the light and the dark with this story.
Overall BFG is a film that is worth a watch once it hits Blu Ray and DVD shelves since it's theatrical run was short-lived due to lack of strong marketing and hype surrounding the film. One has to wonder with it flopping if Steven Spielberg is losing his mojo both as an emotional visionary storyteller and also as a box office draw. With how Bridge Of Spies, War Horse and Lincoln turned out in the last several years including The Adventures of Tin Tin, Id say Spielberg hasn't lost his touch at making strong film's but rather the material wasn't strong enough for him to turn it into something great outside of giving it his usual sentimental trademark along with some impressive visuals. Big Friendly Giant ,is a sweet movie for lovers of Roald Dahls book to watch along with the cartoon and provides for being a solid film for regular moviegoers to watch but it doesn't rank as being one of Spielberg's finest achievements. The heart of the film lies within the friendship between the giant played nicely by Mark Rylance and the young girl played equally good by Ruby Barnhill. Those two together carry the film and make it what it is such as being an empowering children's tale with light and dark thrown into the mix with the twist being a redemption story as this one giant refuses to do what every other giants around him participates in ritual wise such as eating the children. A story like this sounds like it would be something truly remarkable but one can't help while watching the movie that it's missing some magic to really let it take off from the ground. I guess Spielberg was overdue for another dark horse on his resume but given how much more disappointing and lackluster it couldve been, this one actually stands as being one of his stronger disappointments as it feels too short and not as gripping as it couldve been had Spielberg not evaded going darker with the story as he's shown time and time again he's great at balancing both the light and dark tones of a story. It's worth a watch though especially for fans of the book.
7.5 out of 10