Roald Dahl has a long-standing reputation of making great juvenile stories. And many have been made into movies over the years. And some of those movies are still heralded as great classics. Steven Spielberg tried his hand in last year’s The BFG. His credentials are unquestionable, but how did he do?
The Film: 2/5
We start with a young girl in an orphanage, Sophie. She suffers from insomnia and spends many nights up late. One of these nights she sees a giant going through the streets. The giant, who happens to be the titular “BFG”, captures her and takes her home. Since she has seen him, he can not risk letting her return home and exposing that there are giants. So he plans to keep her. However, since he is a vegetarian and doesn’t eat children, she should be safe. That is, as long as none of the other giants find her.
As the two of them get to know each other, we get to learn more about the giant. He once previously had another child live with him who called him the Big Friendly Giant due to his gentle demeanor. The term “big” in BFG strikes me as a bit funny since he is actually the smallest of the giants we see in the movie. The two bond and we soon see how the larger, human eating giants treat the BFG poorly. They abuse and bully him, calling him “runt”, much to Sophie’s dismay. She tells him that he needs to stick up for himself. Later, the two go on an adventure together to capture dreams so that they can spread them to the children of London. Along the way, the BFG learns to defend himself from the larger giants and the pair even meet and become friends of the queen.
As is pretty typical for these types of movies, we see not only an adventure story, but a bit of a meaning and uplifting tale. While Sophie and the BFG go on their adventure, we see people find family and friendship in unexpected places and very different people. We see those who feel like they don’t have the strength to stand up for themselves find their inner strength and self-respect. Experiencing this inner change, they no longer allow themselves to be bullied. The film builds these lessons into the story and deliver them effectively enough. Thankfully, these little pieces that the filmmakers want to impart upon children is not as heavy handed as they could have been.
Honestly, there is nothing really wrong with the movie. But the whole thing just feels lacking. The worlds are beautiful and have some imagination to them, but they feel hollow and like they are borrowing from things we’ve already seen in movies the last few years. Just nothing felt new or novel. Likewise the story just didn’t feel fun enough or deep enough. I think fans of the book will probably enjoy this as will young children. On the other hand, I feel like it will bore those adults who have no affection for the story. Likewise, I think this fails to capture the imagination or fun sought by older children.
Really this movie, while being competently made feels like it has a very narrow audience with young children. If you don’t have young children in your home, I think it probably has limited replay value and is better as a rental.
Picture Quality: 5/5
The BFG has a LOT of CGI. But this is one of those places where the CGI looks great. Disney shows in this release that they know how to film and present digital photography and CGI. This release has tons of details and amazingly beautiful colors. I found pretty no faults on the video for this release. The colors look amazing and the blacks look great. The dark scenes even show a terrific amount of detail. Even as someone who didn’t really care for the movie, I still found enjoyment with the presentation.
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
While The BFG displays more impressive picture quality, the audio doesn’t disappoint. This release comes with a very nice lossless audio in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. The audio effects from the giants sound great and leave the viewer with a very satisfying experience. The track also performs well in directionality. Everything on the track makes sense in relation to the film. The dialog also maintains clarity throughout the film.
Special Features and Packaging: 3.5/5
Bringing the BFG to Life: A set of video diaries by Ruby Barnhill who plays the main character of Sophie. This set focuses on a lot of behind the scenes bits. From the filmmakers finding who they wanted for the BFG to the search for the actress to play Sophie. Also, showing bits of the effects work. Ruby also relates how exciting of an experience acting in this movie was for her.
The Big Friendly Giant and Me: An animated telling of a friendship between a small child and the BFG.
Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of the BFG: A short quiz and instructional video on the fictional language of the giants. A fan of the movie would probably enjoy this a time or two.
Giants 101: A short featurettes discussing how they designed the behavior and personalities of the nine giants other than the BFG.
Melissa Mathison: A Tribute: Unfortunately, Melissa Mathison, the writer for the screenplay of the BFG passed away in November 2015. A number of her collaborators offer a short sentiment on how much they admired her or enjoyed working with her. This feature makes for a satisfying tribute to an influential part of many prolific films.
The BFG features a pretty standard package for Disney: standard case with a matching slipcover. While there is nothing bad about it, it also not overly impressive either.
I understand that The BFG is a beloved children’s tale that will have a strong enough following to make money. Disney has also has done their due diligence in putting money and a strong director behind it with Stephen Spielberg. But it just doesn’t work for me. Maybe I am expecting too much, but I never saw any real magic. It looks very pretty and sounds very good. Likewise, they included a strong set of extras with this release. However, I just wish these strong points backed up a more interesting movie. If you’ve already seen it and like it, you will be happy with this package. On the other hand, I strongly recommend a rental to those who have not already seen it so they aren’t disappointed.
You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.