Firstly, whatever kind of new-fangled expensive CGI techniques they used, I am on board completely. I generally have a fairly low cringe tolerance for anything even facing in the direction of the uncanny valley, but I am very happy to say they the film was never even close to such territory. The BFG’s enormous mug is actually very realistic, alternating between crinkly and charming and touchingly solemn. At first I was furious to discover that my primary school teacher was NOT cast in this role, but I’ve since eased up. Peter, you would have been marvellous – but Mark Rylance does a wonderful job.
The landscapes are colourful, fantastic, stunning enough to rival your favourite avant-garde/surrealist directors. I cannot stress enough how much I appreciated the use of colour, and the palette is very of the moment in its techni-coloured shades of nebula/galaxy. In true Dahl fashion, there are plenty of silly gags (read: farts) to allow for chuckles across the age spectrum, and also some sage life lessons – i.e., bullies sadly exist (Jemaine Clement is brilliant as the main antagonist, the Fleshlumpeater), families are often neither neat or nuclear, and happiness invariably occurs alongside a dose of sadness. Of course in the end, kindness prevails – but if you’re into having your heartstrings tugged *gently* then it’s pretty much a winner in that respect.
If I had any complaints, I suppose it would be that there was nothing really scary about the film, which, to dedicated Dahl fans, may seem an aberration – especially as (in my opinion anyway) the trailer seemed to promise some chills. And you know, it’s about a little girl being kidnapped by a giant man and taken away to a land where other giants – GIANT giants considering that The BFG is really a runt of a giant – eat little children. But, if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, giving up on the more sinister side of Dahl’s oeuvre and making way for his sentimental elements, then I believe you will enjoy it. What it lacks in wickedness, it more than makes up for in lovely visuals, charm, silliness and warmth.
The BFG opens in New Zealand cinemas on Thursday 7 July, 2016.
Our thanks to Disney for providing the movie passes to our reviewer.