Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book stars Mark Rylance and bursts at the seams with sparkling special effects.
In virtual form, Rylance is of course the Big Friendly Giant of the title, a benevolent fellow who captures dreams in jars and speaks of figglers, frobscottle, phizzwizards and the like.
He becomes the friend and protector of 10-year-old orphan Sophie (newcomer Ruby Barnhill), carrying her off to giant country after she catches a glimpse of his latest dream-catching expedition in a delightfully foggy, old-fashioned London. The BFG is, however, very much a runt among giants and his cannibal peers don’t share his vegetarian diet…
Spielberg is clearly having a ball. He may hold back when it comes to the film’s more threatening episodes, but he certainly goes to town with the wonder and silliness. The interlude in which the BFG takes Sophie dream-catching shimmers with magic, while the later scenes featuring Penelope Wilton’s good-humoured Queen in a comically imagined Buckingham Palace fizzle with fart jokes and other mischievous fun.
However, it is the tender, whimsical charm of Rylance that truly dazzles – and gives the movie its heart.